UEFA Champions League preview: Manchester United v Sevilla – Old Trafford – 13 March – Round of 16 clash – 2nd leg
Manchester United have put themselves in an advantageous position going into the 2nd leg of the Round of 16 clash at Old Trafford with Sevilla thanks to a 0-0 draw away at in Spain last month. The Red Devil’s show at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan was less than convincing with their forwards failing to create meaningful chances. It was some incredible goal-keeping by David De Gea that helped the English club proceed into the next leg without being a goal or two down. De Gea’s 8 saves during the game was the highest recorded for any United goalkeeper in a UEFA Champions League tourney, matching Edwin van der Sar’s feat against Barcelona in 2011. Sevilla forwards Luis Muriel and Pablo Sarabia at the who have been the Spanish side’s top scorers this season with 6 goals apiece looked really menacing Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan and would want an encore at Old Trafford next week. On the domestic front, Sevilla have been below par in the La Liga, struggling to get into the Top Four, but have made it to the finals of the Copa del Rey where they will play Barcelona in April. Vincenzo Montella’s men have a tough outing at home against 4th placed Valencia on Saturday before they proceed to England.
Jose Mourinho’s Red Devil showed fighting qualities when they came from behind, being 0-2 down at one point, to beat Crystal Palace 3-2. But United were lackluster for most of the first half with one of their mainstays in the midfield, Paul Pogba, losing ball possession on numerous occasions. But the forwards Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukakau will probably have to show more enterprise going into the clash with Sevilla. In fact, two of the 2nd half goals in the Palace clash came from defenders Chris Smalling and Nemanja Matic. Mourinho may have no option but to drop an off-color Pogba and bring in someone more enterprising like Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford upfront.
The one thing Jose Mourinho can take comfort from is Sevilla’s terrible record in away games. For a side that is currently positioned 5th on the La Liga table, they have lost 8 out of their 14 outings on the road. In one of their Group encounters in the UEFA Champions League, the Spanish side were thrashed 1-5 by an unfancied Spartak Moscow at the Otkritie Arena in the Russian capital. But United will still have to be wary of their Iberian visitors, for it was this same side that held Liverpool to a 3-3 draw at Anfield in another Group encounter.
For United, Old Trafford has turned out to be a fortress of sorts, with the Red Devils not having lost a single match at the venue this season in any form of competition. This makes the hosts rank favorites to win the March 13 game as the odds below suggest.
Jose Mourinho’s men host Liverpool this weekend in a crucial Premier League tie that will determine their position in the Top 4 of the table.
Man Utd to Win, Best Odds 7/10@ Boylesport
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