Manchester United welcome Real Betis to the Theatre of Dreams this evening in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 first leg. United will be seeking to come back from that 7-0 humiliation at Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday. It was one of three bad results for United in the Premier League this season; Brentford 4-0, Manchester City 6-3 and Liverpool 7-0. The overreaction from that defeat has been laughable from so-called Manchester United supporters.
To see Ten Hag Out trending on social media was something that I expected from the same people who live thousands of miles from Old Trafford who seem to think that making changes like that can come after defeats. We saw a lot of it during the David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjær eras at the club but these people could not distance themselves from the drama after this result – they were willing to ignore all the good signs this season.
United played their 42nd match of the season against Liverpool and had won 30 matches, drawn five and lost seven in all competitions, already winning the Carabao Cup and having a four point cushion in third place in the Premier League over fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, seven points over Liverpool. The positives are still there to be seen – reaching the Emirates FA Cup quarter finals and into the last 16 of the UEFA Europa League. Still they react like that.
Dalot, Varane, Martinez, Shaw;
Antony, Weghorst, Fernandes;
Heaton, Butland; Lindelof, Maguire, Malacia, Wan-Bissaka; McTominay, Mainoo; Sancho, Pellistri, Elanga, Garnacho
Sabaly, Pezzella, Felipe, Vinicius;
Henrique, Joaquin, Juanmi;
Silva, Martin, Gonzalez, Ruiz, Iglesias, Canales, Jose, Guardado, Ruibal, Rodri, Miranda, Perez
United have not yet played Betis in a competitive fixture so this will be another new experience for the Red Devils in the Europa League. Erik ten Hag’s side has met them in a friendly match playing during the FIFA World Cup at the end of 2022, which resulted in a 1-0 defeat at the Benito Villamarín with Nabil Fekir scoring. United started with David De Gea, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Scott McTominay and Anthony Martial as the only experienced players on the pitch.
On loan goalkeeper Martin Dubravka and injured midfielder Donny van de Beek were the only experienced players on the bench due to the majority of United’s first team being involved with the World Cup. It was not the best match to watch, neither was the one prior to it; a 4-2 defeat to Cádiz CF but they were friendly matches. United will be tasked with hitting hard in this match to overcome that shocking defeat to Liverpool four days prior to the match at Old Trafford.
United and Betis have no players who have played for both clubs. That may change at some point in the future though. With this being the first competitive meeting between the two sides and Betis coming off a 0-0 draw with Real Madrid and United coming back off a 7-0 defeat to Liverpool, it is going to be a big match for United. The Red Devils will be seeking to get the best of the Spanish side at Old Trafford to reach the quarter finals of the Europa League this season.
Written by John Walker