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Preview: Beating Linzer ASK at Old Trafford may just be a formality but Solskjaer will be up for it

Manchester United -v- Linzer ASK

UEFA Europa League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Wednesday 5 August 2020, KO 20:00 BST

Referee: Tasos Sidiropoulos Assistants: Polychronis Kostaras, Lazaros Dimitriadis 

Fourth Official: Anastasios Papapetrou

VAR: Paolo Valeri Assistant VAR: Maurizio Mariani

Manchester United return to action in the UEFA Europa League on Wednesday evening as they welcome Linzer ASK to the Theatre of Dreams for the round of 16 second leg fixture. United won the first leg back in March with a 5-0 scoreline with Odion Ighalo, Daniel James, Juan Mata, Mason Greenwood and Andreas Pereira scoring the goals, seemingly ending the Austrian sides participation in the competition. It could be a good month for United as they hunt a trophy.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be seeking to get the job done with the latter stages of the tournament being played in Germany with United’s first match to be played RheinEnergieSTADION in Cologne in which they will either face FC Copenhagen or İstanbul Başakşehir. If United win that match, they will stay in Cologne for the semi-final with the final also to be played in the German stadium. United have qualified for the UEFA Champions League next season, finishing third in the Premier League.

Form: United are in great form this summer, winning three, drawing two and losing one of their last six matches. Their unbeaten run was ended by Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final. Linzer have lost their last four matches and could be looking to end the season with another loss on Wednesday.

Manchester United: WDLWDW

Leicester City 2-0 W, West Ham United 1-1 D, Chelsea 3-1 L, Crystal Palace 2-0 W, Southampton 2-2 D, Aston Villa 3-0 W

Linzer ASK: LLLLWW

FK Senica 2-0 L, Red Bull Salzburg 3-0 L, Rapid Wien 3-1 L, Wolfsberg 1-0 L, Hartberg 5-1 W, SK Sturm Graz 2-0 W

Top Scorers: Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial have both scored 22 goals in all competitions with Mason Greenwood scoring 17; João Klauss is Linzer’s top scorer with 20 goals this season.

Manchester United Goals: 22 – Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, 17 – Mason Greenwood, 10 – Bruno Fernandes, 5 – Odion Ighalo, Scott McTominay, 4 – Daniel James, 3 – Jesse Lingard, Harry Maguire, Juan Mata, 2 – Fred, Own Goal, Andreas Pereira, 1 – Diogo Dalot, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba, Luke Shaw, Brandon Williams, Ashley Young

United ended their domestic season well, finishing third in the Premier League, which saw them qualify for the UEFA Champions League next season, which was the task that needed to be completed. Solskjaer’s side took on Leicester City, who were 14 points ahead of them earlier this season, clawing that back and finishing four points above them. It was good to see United fight back and achieve something which will act as a step up on their journey to glory once again.

Linzer ASK Goals: 20 – João Klauss, 14 – Marko Raguž, 13 – Dominik Frieser, 9 – Thomas Goiginger, 7 – Peter Michorl, Reinhold Ranftl, Samuel Tetteh, 6 – Gernot Trauner, 4 – Husein Balić, 3 – James Holland, 2 – Petar Filipović, Own Goal, 1 – Stefan Haudum, Valentino Müller, Yusuf Otubanjo, Marvin Potzmann, Christian Ramsebner, Dominik Reiter, Philipp Wiesinger, Markus Wostry

Linzer finished top of the Austrian Bundesliga this season, winning 17 of the 22 matches played, drawing three and losing twice. Heading into the Championship stage, which meant a further ten more matches, they were not the best. The won three times, drew once and lost six matches, finished fourth in the six team format, which was not the best finish for them. The club has reached the round of 16 stage of the Europa League, also reaching the semi-final stage of the Austrian Cup. Next season, they will play in the Champions League from the playoff round.

Team News: Three injuries for United with Solskjaer likely to rotate his team to face Linzer ASK. The Austrian side have two injuries and two players whose loan spells have now ended.

Solskjaer will be without Axel Tuanzebe, Luke Shaw and Phil Jones with Tuanzebe and Shaw out until next season and Jones not yet returning to training which could see him out until whenever. The star players in this team could be rested for this match, with some on the bench should they need a run out before the later stages of this tournament. United will be able to look ahead to the next round, where they will face either FC Copenhagen or İstanbul Başakşehir.

Dominik Thalhammer with be without Thomas Goiginger and Marvin Potzmann are both out of action with knee injuries whilst both João Klauss and Samuel Tetteh have seen their loan spells with the club end, which suggests the Austrian club know that they are out of the competition now and seeking to end this season, starting the next in a matter of weeks. It should be a good run out for the fringe players, no less.

Predicted Starting XI: Solskjaer to rotate his team with many of his stars getting a break from this match, if they are not needed.

Solskjaer has had Teden Mengi, Ethan Laird, James Garner and Tahith Chong training with the first team ahead of Wednesday’s clash against Linzer ASK at Old Trafford. It is expected that the manager will rest a lot of his stars, although some may be kept on the bench just in case the Austrian side managed to break down United 5-0 lead from the first leg. This will be a big test for some youth players, if they end up starting.

Match Prediction: United beat Linzer 5-0 back in March and in all nine matches against Austrian opposition, they have won eight times, drawing once. It is a record United will extend this week.

United and Linzer met for the first time back in March, which was the last match to be played before the suspension of world football because of the coronavirus pandemic. United on that match 5-0, which was played behind closed doors in the Linzer Stadion. The goalscorer in that match were Odion Ighalo 28′, Daniel James 58′, Juan Mata 82′, Mason Greenwood 90+2′, and Andreas Pereira 90+3′. In effect, this tie has already been decided ahead of the second leg to be played on Wednesday evening.

United have played Austrian teams in Europe. United beat SK Rapid Wien 3-0 on aggregate in 1969 in the quarter-final European Champions Clubs’ Cup, beating the same club 2-0 twice in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League in 1996. In 1999, United beat SK Sturm Graz 3-0 and 2-1 in the group stage one of the Champions League. Finally, beating Sturm Graz again in the Champions League, this time in the group stage two, winning 2-0 and 3-0.

Manchester United 3-0 Linzer ASK

Written by John Walker

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