Manchester United will make the long way to Russia to face FC Rostov in the Europa League Round of 16 as they look to take a valuable advantage in the first leg of the tie. Though it is a fairly easy match on paper, the distance to be covered by the Red Devils would not have pleased Jose Mourinho, who has always been bickering over the participation in Europe’s 2nd tier competition. But United can’t afford to take the competition or the opponents lightly as they have already pulled off one the biggest surprise of the season when they beat Bayern Munich 3-2.
Rostov did well to finish 3rd in the group behind Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich, finishing ahead of PSV Eindhoven. They are now currently competing in the Europa League after having dropped from the Champions League but will be quietly confident of causing an upset. They are 5th in their domestic league and have performed well at home in the European competitions, losing just 1 in the last 7.
Mourinho has a match against Chelsea next but the team will likely get sufficient time to recover with the match taking place on Monday night.
PREDICTED MANCHESTER UNITED XI VS CHELSEA (4-2-3-1)
David De Gea is likely to be stationed between the sticks and will be fairly confident of keeping a clean sheet. The Europa League provides a viable route to the Champions League and a clean sheet with an away goal will go a long way in taking a step towards progress to the next round. Valencia is likely to be stationed at right-back and will be important going forward. Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo will be the central defensive pairing and will look to have a fairly quiet time in Rostov’s terrible pitch conditions. Shaw has been left out which might see Darmian line up.
Carrick and Herrera might line up in the double pivot and will look to dominate the proceedings at the centre of the park. Carrick is likely to sit back and absorb the pressure while Herrera will be more combative. Slightly ahead of them, Paul Pogba is likely to start in the absence of Rooney and will most probably take up the No.10 slot.
Anthony Martial will be on the left side and has to provide the creative spark while Lingard might be on the opposite side with Mkhitaryan and Mata starting from the bench. Ibrahimovic will lead the line as he will be missing a couple of matches in the FA Cup and the Premier League in the coming weeks.
VALENCIA- SMALLING- ROJO- DARMIAN
LINGARD- POGBA- MARTIAL