Preview, predictions and latest odds for Thursday's last-16 clashes in the Europa League, including LASK v Manchester United.
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LASK v Manchester United
- Thursday March 12 – 5.55pm BT Sport 2
Man Utd have seemingly found their form at the perfect time in the season, with Sunday’s derby win over Manchester City taking their unbeaten run to 10 matches. It’s easy to assume they’ve been handed the most straightforward Europa League last-16 draw, too.
But Austrian minnows LASK, whose stadium in the northern city of Linz holds fewer than 8,000 people but for the game will be empty because of coronavirus concerns, are having a phenomenal campaign.
Four straight league wins and 37 points from the last 42 available has taken them six points clear of RB Salzburg at the top of the Austrian Bundesliga – and we’ve seen how strong Red Bull are from their meetings with Liverpool and Napoli in the Champions League.
LASK topped a Europa League group that included Sporting Lisbon, who they thrashed 3-0 at home, and PSV, who were beaten 4-0 in Austria, before a 2-0 home win over AZ Alkmaar secured a comfortable aggregate victory in the round of 32.
So maybe it’s not so straightforward for Man Utd?
Yes, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have made huge improvements since January, but even during this current run of form they laboured to a draw away at Club Bruges in the first leg of the previous round.
United struggled on their travels in the group stage too – a goalless draw at AZ, a hard-fought 1-0 win at Partizan Belgrade and a 2-1 defeat at Astana.
In addition, with an FA Cup quarter-final at Norwich on Sunday, Solskjaer will undoubtedly make changes. One of those will almost certainly be to hand Odion Ighalo a start up front.
The Nigeria striker has made quite the impact since his January loan move from Chinese Super League club Shanghai Greenland Shenhua, scoring three goals in two starts. But his impact in cameo substitute appearances has been stark too.
He has managed a total of 13 shots in just 244 minutes – that’s an average of five per game. Nine have been on target, two have been blocked and one has hit the post – just one has been off target.
I expect him to be in the thick of it once again, whatever the result.
Score prediction: LASK 0-1 Manchester United (Sky Bet odds: 11/2)
LASK v Manchester United – Opta stats
- This will be the first ever competitive meeting between LASK and Manchester United, while it’ll also be LASK’s first encounter with an English team.
- Manchester United have yet to lose versus an Austrian team in European competition (W7 D1), winning each of the last six in a row. In fact, only against teams from Ukraine (W6 D2) have Man Utd played as many games against sides from a single nation without ever losing than they have versus Austrian teams.
- LASK are unbeaten in their last six matches in the Europa League (W4 D2), their longest ever unbeaten run in all European competition (inc. qualifiers).
- Man Utd have lost just one of their last 19 matches in the Europa League (W13 D5), also winning seven and drawing four of their 11 knockout stage games in this run, including the 2016-17 final vs Ajax.
- No team has had more different goalscorers (excl. own-goals) in the Europa League this season than Manchester United (10).
Sevilla v Roma
- Thursday March 12 – 5.55pm BT ESPN
NOTE: THIS GAME HAS BEEN POSTPONED SINCE THIS PREVIEW WAS PUBLISHED
Sevilla are the kings of the Europa League. They lifted the trophy five times between 2006 and 2016, with the most recent triumph a third in succession. Roma on the other hand have just the solitary European title to their name - the 1961 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.
Hoping to help the Italian side end their 59-year wait for a continental trophy are a quartet of players that will be very familiar to fans of Manchester United and Manchester City.
Almost 34-year-old Edin Dzeko has been prolific this season with 15 goals and four assists. At the other end of the pitch his former City team-mate Aleksandar Kolarov, has missed just three games in all competitions despite being four months his senior.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan left Man Utd for Arsenal because things didn't work out, but was shipped out on loan at the beginning of the season - six goals and three assists in 13 Serie A games suggests he's finally found a home.
Chris Smalling also joined Roma on loan in the summer to try and kick-start a flagging career, having lost his place in the defences of both Manchester United and England. He is expected to be recalled by Gareth Southgate in March.
Back to Kolarov. You may remember him as a fairly rash defender during his time in the Premier League, but surprisingly the statistics don't back that up.
Nowadays his team-mate Gianluca Mancini is your man for a booking. He's managed to pick up 10 yellows in 22 Serie A starts. He's only one from six in the Europa League, but surely finds his fouling form in the last 16?
Sevilla have three ex-Man City players too, Fernando, Jesus Navas and Nolito, and the former is their hatchet man. His 12 yellow cards in 28 games rivals Mancini.
For the match itself, Sevilla have to be favourites. They're third in La Liga, unbeaten in six matches and possess a squad that still contains a fair chunk of the players that know how to win in Europe.
Roma still have hopes of Champions League qualification via Serie A after consecutive wins recovered them from a mid-season wobble.
And they have goals in them.
Score prediction: Sevilla 2-1 Roma (Sky Bet odds: 8/1)
Sevilla v Roma - Opta stats
- Sevilla and Roma will be meeting for the first ever time in European competition. The Spanish side have won five of their last eight matches against Italian teams (W5 D1 L2), including each of the last two without conceding a goal.
- Roma have lost eight of their last 10 away games against Spanish teams in all European competition, winning the other two, 4-0 vs Villarreal in February 2017 (Europa League and 2-1 vs Real Madrid in March 2008 (Champions League).
- Sevilla have only lost three of their last 25 Europa League knockout matches (W15 D7 L3), including winning the competition on three occasions in this run (2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16).
- Roma have failed to win the away leg of a knockout tie in European competition in each of their last six attempts (D1 L5), since a 4-0 win vs Villarreal in February 2017.
- Since the start of the 2015-16 season, Edin Dzeko has scored 26 goals in European competition for Roma, 21 more than any other player at the club in this period.
Odds correct at 1500 GMT on 10/03/20
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