Man Utd host Real Betis at Old Trafford in the Europa League on Thursday night. The Red Devils will expect to win this round of 16 ties and see a reaction from their 7-0 humiliation against Liverpool on Sunday. Manuel Pellegrini’s Betis side topped their group and had to bye to the last 16. The visitors drew 0-0 with Real Madrid on Sunday.
Man Utd Form
United have been in great form of late, prior to their shambolic 7-0 thrashing at Anfield against Liverpool last time out. After 20 matches in the 72 days, fatigue certainly played a part in that thrashing but so did ruthless finishing as they only allowed 2.78 Expected Goals and eight shots on target. Prior to that, United had lost just once in 20 fixtures since the World Cup and even that was an injury-time defeat at log leaders, Arsenal (albeit a deserved loss).
At home, Man Utd are unbeaten in 18 fixtures with 16 wins and prior to the Liverpool loss, they had scored two or more goals in each of their last 12 matches. They beat Barcelona 2-1 and then lifted silverware by beating Newcastle 2-0 in the League Cup final at Wembley. A 3-1 FA Cup win against West Ham was their penultimate match.
Man Utd Team News
United need a reaction, so Erik Ten Hag could play close to his best available XI. Anthony Martial is injured up front and Christian Eriksen remains absent in midfield. Casemiro got a knock at Anfield so Marcel Sabitzer could partner Fred in the engine room. Luke Shaw and Raphael Varane are said to have been carrying recent knocks and are slight doubts.
Ten Hag may consider some changes at the back anyway. Aaron Wan-Bissaka could replace Diego Dalot for greater defensive nous and Harry Maguire will hope to feature too. Ten Hag could move Rashford back to the left wing, Bruno Fernandes back to number ten, and Wout Weghorst up front. His alterations to the trio’s starting positions backfired last time out.
Man Utd Motivation
Motivation should be especially high, returning to Old Trafford after the thrashing at Anfield and wanting to put things right.
The supporters will have high expectations from the team and will demand a reaction. The form and results this season should mean a very good atmosphere. Anything less than a win would be unacceptable to the supporters and the coach.
Real Betis Form
Betis sit fifth in La Liga, three points off the Champions League places. They topped their Europa League group earlier this season ahead of Roma and avoided the playoff round. From rounds 14 to 20 in La Liga, they suffered four losses in seven matches and lost some ground in the top-four race.
In recent weeks, the team has been back in good form. A 3-2 win at Almeria was followed by a 2-1 home win against Real Valladolid. They then won 3-2 at Elche although their opponents had ten men sent off at 2-0 up. On Sunday, Betis drew 0-0 at home with Real Madrid despite just 38% possession and 0.45 Expected Goals produced from eight shots.
Real Betis Team News
Coach Pellegrini is without key man Nabil Fekir after a recent ACL injury. Right back Marvin Montoya is not registered for the competition. Wide midfielder Juan Cruz is a doubt due to injury.
One boost is the return of former Real Madrid man Sergio Canales. He missed the match against his former club with a thigh injury but should be fit to start at Old Trafford. Former Man City ‘keeper Claudio Bravo will hope to start in goal in preference to Rui Silva.
Real Betis Motivation
A draw from this match would be a fantastic result. Betis will believe that they can win the return leg at Estadio Benito Villamarin in front of 60,000 fans.
They are expected to play as they did against Real Madrid over the weekend with plenty of men behind the ball and not bothering too much with ball possession numbers.
Man Utd’s last 18 home matches have seen 16 wins and 2 draws
Man Utd’s Rashford has scored 16 goals in his 20 matches since the World Cup
Man Utd have scored 2+ goals in 12 of their last 13 matches (all competitions)
Real Betis have won 4 of their last 5 away matches in the Europa League
Betis have won 4 of their last 5 away matches (La Liga)
Betis’ last 6 away matches have produced 20 goals (all competitions)
Man Utd are expected to respond with an aggressive and attacking performance here. Betis are good on the road and held Real Madrid to a 0-0 so they could prove a tough nut to crack.
Best Bet: Man Utd win (-1 handicap) at 2.10
Alternative Bet: Man Utd win and Rashford to score anytime at 2.26
Value Bet: Man Utd to win by 2 goals at 4.05