Manchester United will be hoping to return to winning ways when they lock horns with Partizan Belgrade in the UEFA Europa League this week.
Manchester United will be aiming to take a major step towards qualification for the knockout phase of the UEFA Europa League when they take on Serbian giants Partizan Belgrade in their fourth Group L encounter at Old Trafford on Thursday night.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are currently top of Group L, having collected seven points from three games, following their 1-0 win against Partizan Belgrade in the reverse fixture last month. The Red Devils went on to win two more games post that, but succumbed to a 1-0 defeat at Bournemouth in the Premier League this past weekend and will be keen on bouncing back strongly on Thursday.
Partizan, on the other hand, are third in the group – a point below second placed AZ Alkmaar and three behind their midweek opponents. Savo Milosevic’s men will be keen on moving up the ladder with a victory at Old Trafford and come into the game full of confidence, having beaten Vojvodina 4-0 in the Serbian league this past weekend.
Ahead of this enticing match-up at Old Trafford on Thursday night, we at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Manchester United have been handed a fresh injury blow as Victor Lindelof will miss the Europa League clash. The Swede joins Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba, Luke Shaw, Axel Tuanzebe, Diogo Dalot, Angel Gomes on the sidelines, along with long-term absentees Eric Bailly and Timothy Fosu-Mensah.
Solskjaer is expected to stick to the 4-2-3-1 formation on Thursday, having fielded a three-man backline in the reverse fixture last month. Sergio Romero ought to deputise for David de Gea in the Manchester United goal, while Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo are expected to pair up at the heart of the defence, affording Harry Maguire some rest.
Ashley Young should feature from kick-off at left-back ahead of youngster Brandon Williams on Thursday given that he is suspended for the weekend Premier League assignment, while Aaron Wan-Bissaka is a certain starter on the opposite side.
Scott McTominay has grown into an indispensable figure for Solskjaer and ought to continue in one of the two midfield slots. Partnering him on Thursday should be youngster James Garner, who had impressed after starting against Partizan in the reverse fixture. Jesse Lingard is likely to be given some game time in the No. 10 role by the Manchester United boss.
Mason Greenwood is also in line for a start, with Marcus Rashford getting some respite on the bench. He should start on the right flank, while Daniel James is likely to be retained on the left wing. Anthony Martial has been in decent form since returning from injury and should continue to lead the United attack against Partizan.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Romero; Wan-Bissaka, Jones, Rojo, Young; McTominay, Garner; Greenwood, Lingard, James; Martial
Former Liverpool star Lazar Markovic is the only major absentee for Partizan Belgrade ahead of their trip to Old Trafford this week. The team that Savo Milosevic will set out on Thursday is likely to bear a strong resemblance to the side that ran United so close in the reverse fixture in Belgrade last month.
Seasoned campaigner Vladimir Stojkovic should man the goal for the visitors. He will be shielded by a backline comprising of Nemanja Miletic and Slobodan Urosevic as the full-backs, with Bojan Ostojic and Strahinja Pavlovic as the two-centre-backs.
Bibras Nathko ought to occupy one of the two pivot positions in the middle of the park for Partizan. He will look to direct play forward, while his partner Sasa Zdjelar, who is just a booking away from a suspension, will be in-charge of breaking up United’s attacks from building.
Seydouba Soumah will be a handful to deal with for the Manchester United defence starting as the No. 10 for Partizan. He will get plenty of support from Takuma Asano and former United star Zoran Tosic, who will be keen on making a strong impression on his return to Old Trafford. On-loan forward Umar Sadiq should spearhead the Partizan attack again.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Stojkovic; Miletic, Ostojic, Pavlovic, Urosevic; Nathko, Zdjelar; Tosic, Soumah, Asano; Sadiq
- Manchester United’s only previous home game against Partizan Belgrade came in the 1965-66 European Cup semi-final, which they won 1-0 thanks to a Nobby Stiles goal.
- Partizan have won just one of their nine away games against English sides in all competitions (D1 L7), beating Newcastle United 1-0 in a Champions League qualifier in 2003.
- Manchester United are one of just two sides yet to concede in the Europa League this season (along with Sevilla). However, only four sides have scored fewer goals so far than the Red Devils (2).
- Partizan are looking to win consecutive away games in major European competition for the very first time (excluding qualifiers), with this being their 82nd match on the road.
- Manchester United have managed just one shot on target in their last two Europa League games, with that effort being Anthony Martial’s penalty against FK Partizan in the reverse fixture.
Player to Watch
The Manchester United academy graduate has a lot of expectations riding on him after a promising pre-season campaign, which was followed by a decent run of games with the first-team. However, Greenwood hasn’t seen much playing time with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side in recent weeks, which has somewhat stalled his progress.
Greenwood is Manchester United’s only goalscorer from open play in this season’s Europa League, having scored at home against Astana. The young forward is in line for a starting berth against Partizan on Thursday night and he will be hoping to make the most of the opportunity by scoring against the Serbian giants.
Manchester United 1-0 Partizan Belgrade
Manchester United had gained some momentum, winning three matches in a row, prior to their defeat to Bournemouth this past weekend. Returning to Old Trafford after three matches on the road, the Red Devils will be buoyed by the home support as they look to maintain their unbeaten start in the Europa League.
Partizan Belgrade, on the other hand, have won just two of their last six matches and have lost their previous two away matches, which gives Manchester United an advantage. It will nevertheless be a tightly-contested encounter at Old Trafford, but we at The Hard Tackle are predicting Ole Gunnar Solskjaer & co. to edge out the visitors narrowly on Thursday.