Man Utd v Rostov Betting Prediction | Backing Man Utd with a -2 handicap at 11/5 with BetfairPublished March 14, 2017
More so than in any competition in the world, the Europa League can be unforgiving. Being the better side never guarantees victory in any game, but external factors can have much more of an impact. Rostov’s last 16 tie with Manchester United is case in point. The Red Devils are much stronger in every sense, but they were more than happy to take a 1-1 draw in Russia and head back to Old Trafford with a slender advantage.
Whether it was the Thursday night, the long distance to travel or a combination of the two, it is only really for Jose Mourinho to say. The biggest issue, though, was clearly the pitch. It was tough for United to get their game going, and although Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s recent injury made him a doubt for the game, it was his goal which makes Mourinho’s side favourites for the return leg, but there could be new problems to contend with. Zlatan Ibrahimovic may return from a ban, but Wayne Rooney, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial are all doubtful.
Whilst overall they’ve been inconsistent in Europe this term, the Red Devils have been scintillating at Old Trafford. Rostov will have to attack if they have any hope of scoring and therefore progressing to the quarter finals, and doing so will mean taking risks. Mourinho is the tactical master when it comes to controlling games, and he will pinpoint exactly how United will punish Rostov, who cannot be underestimated having beaten Bayern Munich in the Champions League earlier this season.
Most goals for Manchester United across all competitions since 2015/16: Ibrahimovic (26) Martial (24) Rooney (20) Mata (19) [Squawka] #MUFC— Manchester United (@ManUtdUpdates_) February 27, 2017
Having admitted he will take the Europa League more seriously if they reach the last eight, Mourinho will likely pick as strong a team as he can, even though they played Chelsea in the FA Cup at Stamford Bridge on Monday. Mkhitaryan is a player who utilises existing space with his close control and dribbling ability, but Juan Mata can create it with his passing range. Without Martial and Rashford, there will be more pressure on Antonio Valencia to provide width from fullback. The direct approach is also an option, with Marouane Fellaini able to play up front as he did during his Everton career. But doing this would negate the impact the likes of Mata, Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba can have on the game.
If United start quickly by getting these players on the ball early, they should have few issues. Jose Mourinho will not allow complacency, and that should take them through even if they do have a striker crisis.