United are back in action!
Manchester United’s Europa League campaign got off to the worst possible start last Thursday, with a flat and uninspiring performance which saw Ten Hag’s reds fall 1-0 to Real Sociedad. The dubious penalty decision resulting in a loss has put United into must-win territory if they want to progress out of this group.
It is however important not to look into the loss too much, the second fixture of the campaign sees United travel to Moldova to face the reigning Moldovan champions.
So who are Sheriff?
Sheriff Tiraspol played Cyprian side Omonia in their opening game, they won that game 3-0, meaning they currently sit top of Group E. The reigning Moldovan champions have been in great form this season, being unbeaten in their previous 8 games, and are top of the Super Liga by three points. Many fans will also remember Sheriff for being the surprise package of last seasons Champions League. They even went as far as beating eventual champions, Real Madrid in the group stage.
So against United, Sheriff will absolutely look to set up defensively. I imagine we see them giving United full possession of the ball, we saw this against Omonia, where Sheriff only had 40% possession, I imagine this will be even less against United.
The strengths of Sheriff are their physicality, Sheriff will look to dominate duels and to win the ball back in order to counter quickly while United are exposed. Midfielder Moussa Kyabou; who won 5/8 duels against Omonia will be pivotal in this game plan being implemented. Expect there to be a few yellow cards for Sheriff as they attempt to use fouls to break up play.
In terms of danger for our defenders, the man of the match last week against Omonia; Rasheed Ibrahim Akanbi will be the biggest threat. The Nigerian stands at 6ft 2in, will be looking to build on his impressive display last week which entailed 1 goal and 1 assist.
How will United approach the game?
United come into this game as clear favourites, it is clear to see why, on paper United should dominate this game, but football isn’t played on paper.
The cancellation of last weekends Premier League game and additionally the Leeds game this weekend being cancelled means United won’t play again until October 2nd (after the Sheriff game). With this in mind, Ten hag will probably pick his strongest line up as he has nothing to rest them for. Starting his preferred XI will also ensure (hopefully), the three points in a must win game for the club’s Europa League campaign.
Team news from Ten Hag has told us that absentees from the squad are; Rashford, Martial, Van de Beek and Wan-Bissaka. So my with this in mind, my predicted XI is:
De Gea; Dalot; Varane; Martinez; Malacia; McTominay; Eriksen; Antony; Bruno; Sancho; Ronaldo
Will United make up for last week? or will Sheriff pile on the pressure and leave a sour taste in United fans’ mouth.
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