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Marcus Rashford To Be Rewarded With Champions League Start As Manchester United Host Sevilla

Manchester United–Sevilla

UEFA Champions League Last-16, Second Leg


Having drawn 0-0 in the first leg last month, Manchester United host Sevilla on Wednesday night and will be hoping to secure a place in the quarterfinals at the expense of their Spanish visitors. The side has only lost one game at Old Trafford – against neighbours Manchester City – since Jose Mourinho arrived and they will hope their strong home record will boost their chances here.

Wins over Chelsea and Liverpool in their last two games at the Theatre of Dreams add to that aura of invincibility, as does the manner in which the side has bounced back from its most recent defeats. Losses away to Tottenham and Newcastle saw the Portuguese boss’ ability begin to come into question, but with four wins and a draw in their last five outings, it seems he has United right back on track.

His 4-2-3-1 formation looks to be bringing the best from all departments, particularly in attack where Marcus Rashford, Alexis Sanchez and Juan Mata look extremely sharp playing just behind Romelu Lukaku. Yet with Sevilla desperate to bag an away goal, it is likely to be at the other end of the pitch where Mourinho must hope for strong performances, with goalkeeper David de Gea – undoubtedly the hero of the first-leg – likely to be vital once again.

In contrast, Los Rojiblancos have endured wild fluctuations in form since the first leg, losing 5-2 against Atletico Madrid and 2-0 to Valencia while beating Malaga (1-0) and Athletic Bilbao (2-0). Manager Vincenzo Montella was often labelled a “Spanish-style coach” during his time in Serie A, but he seems to be struggling to adapt to the demands of the Andalusian side and his chances will not be helped by the club’s poor record in England.

Sevilla lost away to Leicester and Manchester City in recent seasons before the group stage draw with Liverpool in the current campaign and, while boasting a superb standard in the Europa League they have never progressed beyond the last-16 of UEFA’s elite competition.

Montella’s 4-2-3-1 formation leans heavily on a strong left flank and the experience of midfield duo Éver Banega and Steven N’Zonzi as they provide a platform for those ahead of them. However, they arrive at this fixture having confirmed that former Manchester City man Jesus Navas will miss the trip to Old Trafford through injury. Sébastien Corchia is also sidelined, while Miguel Layún is ineligible, which will push Gabriel Mercado out to right-back and see Simon Kjaer start in central defence.

Meanwhile, United are not expected to make many changes to the side that beat Liverpool 2-1 on Saturday, particularly as Paul Pogba is expected to miss out for the second game running. The Frenchman was not deemed fit enough to train on Monday, leaving Marouane Fellaini and Scott McTominay battling for one spot in midfield. Anthony Martial is also back in contention and Zlatan Ibrahimovic has returned to training, but Ander Herrera, Phil Jones, Daley Blind and Marcos Rojo are expected to miss out.

Manchester United (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Bailly, Young; Matic, McTominay; Sanchez, Mata, Rashford; Lukaku

Sevilla (4-2-3-1): Sergio Rico; Pizarro, Lenglet, Mercado, Escudero; N Zonzi, Banega; Sarabia, Correa, Vazquez; Ben Yedder

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