Preview: Manchester United vs. Sevilla
Preview: Manchester United vs. Sevilla
Manchester United and Sevilla played out a goalless draw at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan last month in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash, leaving everything to play for at Old Trafford on Tuesday night.
Only the heroics of goalkeeper David De Gea kept the Spaniards at bay last time out, but with home advantage on their side, Jose Mourinho’s team head into the second leg as favourites to progress to the quarter-finals.
Since escaping Spain with a goalless draw, United have been in fine form in the Premier League, winning all three of the fixtures they have contested.
That run includes an impressive 2-1 win against the defending champions Chelsea, victory at Crystal Palace, and last weekend’s 2-1 triumph against bitter rivals Liverpool.
In all competitions, it is only two defeats in 16 matches for in-form United, who are currently second in the Premier League.
Mourinho’s men have every reason to be confident ahead of Sevilla’s visit to Old Trafford, given that they have lost just once at home all season, and that defeat came to Premier League champions-elect Manchester City.
Their return-leg clash with the La Liga outfit marks only their second Champions League knockout game since 2014, and it comes amid their 10th appearance in the last 16 overall.
Although the Red Devils bowed out at this stage in their first two attempts, they have only failed to progress on one of the last seven occasions.
United progressed through the group phase comfortably, racking up five wins out of six against Basel, CSKA Moscow and Benfica to come away with their best points tally since 2007-08, when they went on to lift the trophy.
Although United have lost just twice in their last 18 European fixtures – to Real Madrid in the European Super Cup and Basel in a dead-rubber group match – they have won only one of their last six Champions League knockout games.
That said, it is on the road where their problems have been most prevalent, and with the Red Devils having held out for a draw in Spain, they are in good stead to enjoy their longest run in the Champions League since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson.
Recent form: WWWLWD
Recent form (all competitions): LWDWWW
Sevilla have had mixed fortunes on the domestic front since United shut them out in their own backyard, winning two and losing two during that time.
Vincenzo Montella’s side bounced back from a 5-3 pasting at the hands of Atletico Madrid with wins over Malaga and Athletic Bilbao, but a 2-0 reverse at home to Valencia in their last fixture has left them in fifth place in La Liga, 11 points away from the Champions League positions.
There are plenty of problems for the Italian coach to iron out, with his side having scored the fewest goals in the top eight and conceded the second-most in the top nine.
These issues have been carried over to the Champions League where Sevilla conceded more group-stage goals than any other side which qualified for the knockout phase. They also racked up fewer wins than any other team that progressed.
That said, they have lost only once in nine games in this season’s competition, having qualified from Group E alongside Liverpool, finishing above Spartak Moscow and Maribor.
The Spaniards have reached the knockout phase of the tournament in four of their last five attempts, but have never made it further than the last 16.
It is easy to see why, given that Sevilla’s 0-0 draw with United marked the first time they have ever kept a clean sheet in a Champions League knockout fixture.
Recent form: WLWDDD
Recent form (all competitions): WDLWWL
Paul Pogba’s United future has come under intense scrutiny of late and that will only be fuelled by reports that he is sitting out the visit of Sevilla.
The word is that the Frenchman has picked up a fresh injury, separate from the one which prevented him from starting in Spain.
In midfield, the fit-again Marouane Fellaini is pushing for a start and could replace Scott McTominay in the first XI.
Marcus Rashford made a strong case for his including in the starting lineup by netting a brace against Liverpool at the weekend, and he is certain to sit above Anthony Martial in the pecking order, given that the French striker is a fitness doubt.
United will definitely be without Ander Herrera thanks to a hamstring problem, while Daley Blind and Phil Jones are rated as doubtful.
Jesse Lingard, meanwhile, could be kept from the starting XI given that he will incur a suspension if he picks up another yellow card.
Sevilla have a right-back problem ahead of kickoff, with Jesus Navas still suffering for a calf injury and Miguel Layun not registered for the Champions League.
Sebastien Corchia has been left out of the squad as his recovery from a groin strain continues, while Lionel Carole will be absent because of a calf problem.
Goalkeeper Juan Soriano was expected to still be sidelined for the trip to England, but has made the Sevilla squad.
Sergio Escudero, Ever Banega and Gabriel Mercado are one yellow card away from a suspension.
Manchester United possible starting lineup:
De Gea, Valencia, Lindelof, Smalling, Young, Matic, Fellaini, Herrera, Mata, Rashford, Lukaku
Sevilla possible starting lineup:
Soriano, Kjaer, Mercado, Lenglet, Escudero, Banega, N’Zonzi, Sarabia, Vazquez, Correa, Muriel
Head To Head
Last month’s 0-0 draw in Spain was actually the first competitive meeting between these two sides.
However, they did face one another in a pre-season friendly in 2013, a match the La Liga outfit won 3-1.