It is time for Manchester United to truly test themselves. Europa League might not be the competition they wanted to be part of in early 2021, but it is also the competition that gives them more chances of going all the way and possibly winning the whole thing. But for that to happen, they must beat every side that comes in their way and AC Milan certainly are one such side.
Manchester United have drawn against former European champions 1-1 at Old Trafford last Thursday and will be in a tricky position in the return leg in Italy. Milan know they have no realistic chances of winning Serie A and therefore making a great run in Europa League could be even more important for them.
Here is everything you need to know ahead of this clash.
Milan will be in a stronger position than last week, in terms of personnel available. Hakan Calhanoglu and Theo Hernandez were two important players of theirs who missed the first leg and now both of them will be back in the team. Zlatan Ibrahimovic also did not play last Thursday and this time around he might be expected to play, but only if he comes off the bench. Ante Rebic might not get his chance after a disgraceful red card against Napoli, when he insulted the referee, although he will be perfectly available for this game.
Man United have more issues in these terms. Paul Pogba and Donny van de Beek have injury problems that are nearing their end, but not for this match. Edinson Cavani should be expected to start up front, after Solskjaer said he is very likely to be ready and that will be truly important since Anthony Martial missed the game against West Ham. The Devils are short on options in attack, while David de Gea is unlikely to get the starting spot ahead of Dean Henderson.
If it was not clear in recent weeks, after the last weekend it is – AC Milan will not be the new champions of Italy. Our rivals have managed to get a draw at Old Trafford, but in between that match and the return leg, they had a tough challenge of hosting Napoli at San Siro. And they lost 1-0, in a heated match, further proving that in recent months, Milan are playing better away from home.
The last time Milan won a game at San Siro, it was 7 February and their rival was Crotone, a side that is bound to get relegated from Serie A. For another home win before that, we would have to go a further month in the past, to early January.
Those are the good news for Man United, but what are also good news is that the Devils have managed to win their second consecutive Premier League match. After beating Man City, last weekend they managed to get past West Ham for another three points. Now two important cup matches arrive. Milan will be the first test if United want to stay in the race for the trophy.
To predict this game is really tough, but let’s put it this way. Manchester United will go through on away goals, after a 1-1 draw in England. This means the Devils would need to get 2-2 in Milan, but as much as that might sound too big of a prediction, it would be a poetic justice for Milan to exit the competition on away goals, considering they got to this round of the competition in the same way.
Apart from that, it really should not be a surprise if this match goes to extra-time, but the fact United will play away from home should not be too much of a problem, considering there will be space and time for them to exploit in their beloved counter-attacks.