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Preview: United rested ahead of Roma semi-final second leg; 90 minutes from the final

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AS Roma -v- Manchester United

UEFA Europa League

Stadio Olimpico, Rome

Thursday 6 May 2021, KO 20:00 BST

Referee: Felix Brych Assistants: Mark Borsch, Stefan Lupp

Fourth Official: Felix Zwayer

VAR: Marco Fritz Assistant VAR: Sascha Stegemann

Manchester United face AS Roma at the Stadio Olimpico in the UEFA Europa League semi-final second leg on Thursday evening. Last week at Old Trafford, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side came from 2-1 down to win 6-2 after a sublime second half which saw Bruno Fernandes complete his brace, Edinson Cavani score a brace, Paul Pogba with a great header and Mason Greenwood continue his rise to stardom. Roma were pushed aside and will need something short of a miracle to overturn this four-goal deficit and that is even before you think about whether United score or not. Paulo Fonseca’s side’s season looks to be over.

United will have had another week’s break by the time they play again after their Premier League clash with Liverpool was postponed on Sunday after the protest against the Glazer’s at both Old Trafford, which involved supporters getting into the stadium, and at the Lowry Hotel, where the players were ahead of the match. The match was initially delayed but then postponed on safety grounds with a new date for the match not yet confirmed. United will have five Premier League matches to fit into the next 20 days as the match will need to be played before the last matches in the league are played on the 23 May 2021.

Manchester United: WDWWWW

AS Roma 6-2 W, Leeds United 0-0 D, Burnley 3-1 W, Granada 2-0 W, Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 W, Granada CF 2-0 W

AS Roma: LLLDLD

UC Sampdoria 2-0 L, Manchester United 6-2 L, Cagliari Calcio 3-2 L, Atalanta BC 1-1 D, Torino FC 3-1 L, AFC Ajax 1-1 D

Top Scorers: Four United players are responsible for scoring 68 goals so far this season with United scoring more than a 100 so far. Roma need a miracle to stop this team from scoring goals.

Manchester United Goals: 26 – Bruno Fernandes, 20 – Marcus Rashford, 12 – Edinson Cavani, 10 – Mason Greenwood, 7 – Anthony Martial, Scott McTominay, 6 – Paul Pogba, 5 – Own Goal, Daniel James, 2 – Harry Maguire, Juan Mata, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 1 – Amad Diallo, Fred, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw, Donny van de Beek

In their last six matches, United have won five and drawn once, scoring 16 goals, conceding four and keeping three clean sheets. Obviously, this could have changed if the Liverpool match had gone ahead on Sunday, but it didn’t. United have a foot in the door to the final of the Europa League this season and will need to go out at the Stadio Olimpico with a view of scoring two goals, giving them a six-goal lead and eradicating those two goals scored against them at the Theatre of Dreams last week. Solskjaer will have the chance to rest some of his key players in this match with the clash with Aston Villa also one the horizon.

AS Roma Goals: 15 – Borja Mayoral, 12 – Edin Dzeko, Jordan Veretout, 10 – Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 8 – Lorenzo Pellegrini, 5 – Gianluca Mancini, Pedro, 3 – Carles Pérez, 2 – Ibañez, Marash Kumbulla, Bruno Peres, Leonardo Spinazzola, 1 – Riccardo Calafiori, Bryan Cristante, Amadou Diawara, Stephan El Shaarawy, Federico Fazio, Rick Karsdorp, Tommaso Milanese

Roma have not won a single match in their last six, drawing twice and losing four times. In the last six matches, they have scored seven goals, conceded 16 and kept no clean sheets. The club sit seventh in the Serie A this season and look set to miss out on the major European competitions, seemingly able to qualify for the play-off round of the UEFA Europa Conference League instead. Paulo Fonseca will leave the club at the end of the season with Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho taking over from him. The Special One has become the sacked one too many times recently and will need to show that he is capable of leading a team to glory.

Team News: United will be missing two players though injury but Sunday’s postponed match will have given them a brief period of rest ahead of this important match.

Phil Jones (knee) and Anthony Martial (knee) are the only two players to be out of action through injury for this match. With United’s match not going ahead on Sunday, Solskjaer’s side will be refreshed after their 6-2 victory at Old Trafford last Thursday. Solskjaer will have the benefit of being able to rest a few players for this match given the scoreline and United will need to effectively confirm their place in the UEFA Europa League final by scoring two away goals, therefore cancelling out Roma’s effort at the Theatre of Dreams last week. This could put United six goals ahead with Roma needing something of a miracle to head Gdansk on the 26 May.

Nicolò Zaniolo (cruciate ligament), Riccardo Calafiori (bicep), Jordan Veretout (bicep), Leonardo Spinazzola (bicep), Pau López (shoulder), Stephan El Shaarawy (unknown), Amadou Diawara (pubalgia) and Carles Pérez (muscular) all have problems ahead of the second leg of the semi-final against United. Roma will need something short of a miracle to overcome this deficit and reach the final in Gdansk on the 26 May. Gianluca Mancini was suspended for the clash at Old Trafford and he could be involved at the Stadio Olimpico on Thursday evening. Paulo Fonseca will need to have a plan and United will be out to ruin it once again.

Predicted Starting XI: Edinson Cavani and Mason Greenwood to spearhead United’s attack against Roma? Donny van de Beek, Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic to start?

Solskjaer already knows that be can rest some important players for this match, which at this stage of the season will be well received. United did not end up playing this weekend but the match will be factored in before the final weekend of Premier League matches, so resting players now will be something much-needed with five Premier League matches still to play, plus this one and the final if United did end up confirming their place. Edinson Cavani should start alongside Mason Greenwood as United should seek to score two away goals, therefore nullifying Roma’s chances of playing in the final in Gdansk this season.

Match Prediction: United have beaten Roma five times in European competition and are no stranger to humiliating them. United are just 90 minutes away from a UEFA Europa League final.

United and Roma have met seven times in the history of the UEFA Champions League, playing six times and the UEFA Europa League, playing once. United have won five times, drawing once and losing once. The Red Devils have scored a total of 19 goals, conceding six and keeping three clean sheets. The first time the two clubs met was at the quarter-final stage of the Champion League during the 2006/07 season, losing 2-1 at the Stadio Olimpico but winning 7-1 (8-3 ons aggregate) at Old Trafford a week later. They then met in the group stages of the competition during the 2007/08 season, winning 1-0 at the Theatre of Dreams and drawing 1-1 at the Stadio Olimpico.

Before last week, United last met Roma was in the quarter-final during the 2007/08 season, making it four meetings between the two clubs that season. United won 2-0 at the Stadio Olimpico, winning 1-0 (3-0 on aggregate) at Old Trafford, making the semi-finals that season where they beat Barcelona 1-0 on aggregate over two legs and went on the beat Chelsea on penalties in the final in Moscow. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer featured against Roma in the first two matches played. Wayne Rooney scored four goals, Cristiano Ronaldo scored three, Michael Carrick scored twice, with Patrice Evra Gerard Piqué, Alan Smith and Carlos Tevez scoring once.

AS Roma 2-3 Manchester United

Written by John Walker

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