Europa League nights at Old Trafford return this Thursday night as Manchester United host FC Astana. Admittedly, none of us want to be in the Europa League. A club of the size and stature of Manchester United should have never fallen back into such a beta competition. However, not only is this the chance to for Ole to win a European trophy, it is a chance to put our young talent on show.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be hoping to replicate what Arsenal did in last year’s campaign, use the wider squad. In the Premier League thus far, Ole has kept the variation in his selection minimal, the strenuous schedule of European competition should force the Norwegians hand.Embed from Getty Images
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer today confirmed that Axel Tuanzebe, Mason Greenwood and Sergio Romero will be starting on Thursday night. Diogo Dalot and Jesse Lingard have returned from injury and are in line to potentially be involved also. Paul Pogba and Luke Shaw took part in some light individual training as they look to recover in time for the West Ham fixture.
OppositionEmbed from Getty Images
Our opponents this week come from Kazakhstan. Sitting third in their domestic league, United will face a side that love to score goals. In Europa League qualifying games, FC Astana has played 5 games and lost one against BATE Borisov. In the games they did win however, they scored 16 in 4.
Despite being one of the minnows in the Europa League this season, FC Astana does have a history of causing upsets. The Kasakhstani outfit drew 0-0 in the UEFA Champions League against Simeone’s Atletico Madrid in 2015. The Rojiblancos fielded a team that included Antoine Griezmann, Koke and Saul.
All in all, a game FC Astana should really be an exhibition for Manchester United to put on show the youth that needs a chance. Manchester United winning tomorrow should be a given. I personally will be looking for the performance and the character of the team. Hopefully, complacency doesn’t creep in and our Europa League campaign begins in the best way possible.