Europa League: St Etienne v Manchester United Preview


Our football scribe takes a look at Wednesday night's second leg tie between St Etienne and Manchester United.

Jose Mourinho will feel mightily relieved that his side were able to all but secure this tie last week. Courtesy of perhaps the most unglamorous hat-trick you will ever witness by Zlatan, United will use this match as an opportunity to rest key players ahead of the League Cup final. St Etienne will perhaps see this as a small window of opportunity. To be fair, the French side created the better chances in the first half and will be ruing a sequence of missed opportunities. The French side also know that an early goal may cause some flutters of trepidation in a side balancing a smorgasbord of tournament commitments at the present moment.

St Etienne v Manchester United | Wednesday 22 February | St Geoffroy-Guichard | 19:00

To Win (90 Mins)
St Etienne 24/10  | Draw 22/10 | Man United 23/20

St Etienne

Christophe Galtier’s side definitely are not lacking for creative flair. Hamouma harangued the United defence incessantly last week while Monnet-Paquet threatened to unlock the defence on several occasions. They do seem to be slightly tentative in front of goal; perhaps they were somewhat overwhelmed by the occasion. Jorgenhio and Monnet-Paquet managed to get behind the United full-backs on several occasions, before falling prey to lapses of concentration.
I think they will have learnt from their experience last week and should be able to penetrate a weaker United this week. They clearly have to go gung-ho from the off, which should make for an entertaining spectacle at the very least. They have a wealth of attacking talent and will want to make a decent impression in what is sure to be their final European tie of the year. Look for Monnet-Paquet to penetrate down that left-hand side while Hamouma’s pace troubles whatever defensive combination United role out.

Manchester United
Success may breed success, but the sheer amount of fixtures that United have to negotiate at present has almost become farcical. Not to mention the fact that United’s League Cup Final will ensure that the mammoth Premier League fixture against City will need to be postponed. So you can fully expect United to ring the changes this week. Marouane Fellaini may even start again after a dismal showing last week. Romero will likely play in his third consecutive game as United number one - a feat that I doubt will ever be repeated if De Gea remains injury free.
United will want to build on the positive juju that they have assiduously accumulated over the past three months, so don’t expect a purely faxed in job. They will remain defensively solid and look for quick counterattacking opportunities. It would be interesting to see how they would react to an early goal, but United would just send in the cavalry if necessary: look at how Pogba and Ibra completely changed the complexion of that tie at Ewood Park.
Verdict: St Etienne 24/10
This seems fairly straightforward. United have a significant advantage to protect and will go into hibernation mode for the first half.  They will rotate their squad and invite a talented side to express themselves. This has echoes of United’s last defeat, when they lost the second leg against Hull in the League Cup semi-final, safe in the incubated warmth of a first leg advantage.

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

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