Manchester United will secure qualification from Group L with two games to spare with victory against Partizan Belgrade on Thursday, and after victory in Serbia two weeks ago, will be confident of breaking down Partizan once again.
Manchester United v Partizan Belgrade – Europa League Group Stage
Venue: Old Trafford
Kick Off: 20:00
TV Channel: BT Sport 2
The Red Devils come into this game fresh from a defeat at Bournemouth on Saturday which ended their three game winning run, and highlighted the concerns still underlying when trying to break teams down. With Bournemouth happy to sit in, compared to the open, attacking play Norwich and Chelsea both showed, United struggled for long periods, only mustering four shots on target, and an xG of 0.64. Andreas Pereira struggled once again in the number ten role, as United were forced to come out and try and create, as opposed to being able to sit back and utilise the pace of Martial and Marcus Rashford on the counter, and this played into the hands of Eddie Howe’s side.
Despite a 1-0 win in Serbia courtesy of Anthony Martial’s penalty, United struggled to create for long periods, and were put under pressure by Partizan’s backline, with Umar Sadiq impressing up front. Being back on home turf for this one will surely help, and despite a rotated side expected, United will fancy their chances of qualifying for the next round with two games to spare.
Partizan Belgrade sit in 3rd in the group, and come into the game on the back of a resounding 4-0 win at home to Vojvodina on Saturday, who sit one place above them in the Serbian league. Goals from Bibras Natkho (2), Sasa Zdjelar and Umar Sadiq will give them confidence that they can at least get on the score sheet against a potentially changed United eleven, and their chances can’t be totally written off.
Ole Gunnar Solksjaer is expected to freshen up his side once again, with one eye on the home game against Brighton on Sunday, and it could see youngsters James Garner, Brandon Williams and Mason Greenwood afforded another opportunity to impress.
Manchester United will be without Dalot, Bailly, Tuanzebe, Fosu-Mensah, Shaw, Pogba and Matic.
Partizan Belgrade have no injury concerns
Head to Head:
Manchester United – 2
Draws – 0
Partizan Belgrade – 1
Manchester United are unbeaten in their last ten Europa League home games
Bibras Natkho and Umar Sadiq both have two goals for Partizan in the Europa League this season.
Marcus Rashford is top scorer for United domestically with five, whilst Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood have a goal apiece in the Europa League
Manchester United Last 5 – L W W W D
Partizan Belgrade Last 5 – W L W L L
With United understandably heavy favourites at 2/5, it is important to look elsewhere for value. Partizan will look to defend deep and frustrate United for long periods, and the lack of creativity that was on show for United on Saturday could rear its head once again. Solksjaer is still searching for the best combination to unlock these compact defences, and as highlighted by their low xG once again on Saturday, he is yet to do so. Under 2.5 goals looks promisingly priced at 8/11, and given the context of the group, where Partizan will be happy for a point, and United’s struggles, it takes appeal.
Given United will have to be patient throughout, and may have to rely upon the likes of Martial and Rashford off the bench to change the game, the Draw HT/United FT option takes appeal at 3/1. The game is expected to take a similar shape to that in Serbia, as Partizan did show their ability to sit in and defend, as well as at times promise in attacking areas, all be it with little end product. A tight and cagey affair is expected, and United may take their time to break down the Serbian side.