WILLIE DUNCAN (@Willie_Duncan) nailed last week’s first leg at Old Trafford so we got him back on duty for the return fixture in France.
Saint-Etienne v Manchester United | Wednesday 17:00 | BT Sport
There is a feast of football to choose from for connoisseurs of the beautiful game on Wednesday night (if anyone is looking for me, I’ll be at Easter Road for Hearts’ Scottish Cup replay against Hibs) and it all starts at teatime when Manchester United meet Saint-Etienne.
Even if I didn’t have an Edinburgh derby to think about, I doubt that this is a tie that would capture my imagination – it is, after all, surely a dead rubber after Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s hat-trick put Jose Mourinho’s men firmly in the driving seat during last week’s first leg tie.
Red Devils second string
United, therefore, look almost certain to progress to the last 16 of the competition and, with Sunday’s League Cup final against Southampton at Wembley in mind, Mourinho will surely hand a second strong side the task of seeing the tie out.
Should Saint-Etienne open up a two-goal advantage, things might get interesting but I certainly wouldn’t be tempted to take any price on such an eventuality; Manchester United’s defensive discipline is certainly admirable these days.
Admirable defensive discipline
Indeed, Mourinho’s side have shipped more than a single goal in just one of their last 24 games – and I’m not even sure if that one counts because the 54-year-old Portuguese insisted that his side’s 2-1 defeat against Hull in the League Cup semi-final had, in fact, ended in a 1-1 draw.
Furthermore, Saint-Etienne aren’t really the type of team to rack up a big win in this competition; Christophe Galtier’s side have won by more than one goal in just one of their last 22 Europa League ties.
In fact, there have been fewer than two goals scored in four of Saint-Etienne’s last five home fixtures in this competition – including three 0-0 draws – and another low-scoring affair seems likely when Mourinho’s miserly side visit Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.
If you’re after an action-packed and goal-laden game, you may well be better off focusing your energies elsewhere, for I can’t see anything other than a dull 90 minutes of football in France.
Saint-Etienne v Manchester United – Under 1.5 Goals (9/4 William Hill)