Manchester United will end the UEFA Europa League group stage on a high after beating both Tottenham and Manchester City last week. Plus, they have already clinched a spot in the next round of the competition. The Red Devils will end the first round at home against AZ Alkmaar, a team they couldn’t defeat in the reverse fixture after settling for a scoreless draw. Kick-off for this match is scheduled for Thursday at 20:00 GMT.
Paul Pogba remains out without a clear timetable, according to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Marcos Rojo, Eric Bailly, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Axel Tuanzebe are out, but all four should resume traning next week. Nemanja Matic and Diogo Dalot are fit, and both could be involved here. Manchester United could field a more experienced side compared to the one that played against Astana last week.
On the other hand, AZ Alkmaar won’t have one of their best players available for this clash. Star forward Myron Boadu is suspended, and Greek defender Pantelis Hatzidiakos is sidelined with a knee injury. The rest of the squad, however, should be match fit.
Manchester United have been on the rise in recent weeks. They are coming off back-to-back wins over Spurs and City in the Premier League, and are on an excellent run of form since they have not lost in their previous three competitive matches, while dropping just one of their last seven. That defeat came against Astana, where Solskjaer decided to field an alternative side. In the UEFA Europa League, United sit in first place with 10 points after five matches (W3, D1, L1). A draw would be enough to secure the top spot.
Alkmaar are one of only seven sides who can boast an unbeaten record in the 2019/20 Europa League group stages. They have also scored 15 goals in their five group stages matches thus far, meaning their attack can’t be taken for granted. They have two wins – both against Astana – and three draws meaning they are forced to win if they want to reach the top spot in Group L. Otherwise, they will settle with second place of the standings and a knockout berth regardless.
What is our recent record against AZ Alkmaar?
These two sides have met just once in the past. It happened in the Europa League group stage this season on Dutch soil, and that match ended with a scoreless draw.
Manchester United are getting healthier and healthier when it comes to injuries. The loss of Boadu should weaken AZ considerably, and The Red Devils have high morale ahead of this contest. It will be a tough match, but The Red Devils have been playing better and better each week, and that should be enough to secure the three points at home.