Manchester United vs AC Milan | Thursday 11th March 2021, 17:55 | BT Sport
Stefano Pioli and his depleted Milan side travel to the Theatre of Dreams as the first-leg of their last 16 tie gets underway.
United are in exceptionally high spirits after claiming victory at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, and in turn, ending bitter rivals Manchester City’s 21 game-winning run at the weekend. Solkjaer will undoubtedly see this competition as a real possibility for silverware this season and on paper, they should overcome an AC Milan side struggling with a host of injuries and in bad form domestically.
The Rossoneri have been somewhat despondent of late. They’ve won just three of their last eight games and that includes a loss to City and title rivals Inter. They managed to get back to winning ways on the weekend themselves as they overcame a resilient Verona side by two goals to nil.
With numerous players unavailable to them for this tie, a draw wouldn’t be a bad result.
● Commits on average 14.5 fouls per game when playing at home in European competitions.
● Receives on average 13 free kicks per game when playing at home in European competitions.
● Have seen 2+ cards in 3/4 home European games this season.
● In those games, the opposition has seen 2+ cards on 3/4 occasions.
● Have not conceded a goal in any of their last four games, although three of those were
away from home.
● Are undefeated in 23 of their last 25 UEL matches.
● Scan results showed on Monday that Marcus Rashford has avoided ankle ligament damage but he is still out of this one, along with Juan Mata, Donny van de Beek, Paul Pogba and David de Gea.
● Luke Shaw looked set to come off injured against City on a couple of occasions and wasn't even certain to start until the warm-up so may not be risked here.
● Mason Greenwood should come into the side for Rashford, with Alex Telles replacing Luke Shaw at left-back. Eric Bailly is an option to replace Victor Lindelof at centre-back.
● Edinson Cavani is a doubt after missing out at the weekend and chances are he will miss out here.
● Commits on average 15.3 fouls per game when playing away in the UEL this season.
● Receives on average 15.5 free kicks per game when playing away in the UEL this
● Have seen 2+ cards in 4/4 away Europan games this season.
● In those games, the opposition has seen 2+ cards on 4/4 occasions.
● Are undefeated in 10 of their last 11 UEL matches.
● Have kept a clean sheet in just once of their last seven games.
● AC Milan has confirmed Zlatan Ibrahimovic will miss a reunion with Manchester United at Old Trafford through injury.
● The Serie A outfit are also without key players Theo Hernandez and Hakan Calhanoglu because of injury, while Ibrahimovic's replacements, Ante Rebic and Mario Mandzukic, are also ruled out of the first leg.
● United will be familiar with Chelsea loanee Fikayo Tomori, while ex-Manchester City youngster Brahim Diaz will hope to feature.
Referee: Slavko Vinčić
● Averaging 4.00 yellow cards awarded per game in Europe this season.
● Has awarded 120 booking points in his last two European competition appearances this
My first pick is for Manchester United to receive 11+ free kicks and for AC Milan to have 9+ goal kicks.
Milan commits the fifth-highest fouls per game on average per game (14.4) amongst the sides left in the competition and I think with United seeing the majority of the ball on home soil, Milan are going to have to break up plenty of attacks resulting in plenty of free-kicks for the home side.
Milan are missing a host of key players going into this one, including the likes of Ibrahimovic, Hernandez, Rebic, Mandzukic and Calhanoglu. With so many players missing I feel that Ole is going to want his team to go out and effectively get the job done in the first leg.
United are undoubtedly going to create chances in this one and will be popping off shots at any given opportunity in order to make that breakthrough and so I envisage Donnarumma taking plenty of goal kicks.
These are relatively low lines given the sides and so to get 6/4 on this bet is a price I’llll happily take; I’d have it closer to evens.
My second pick is for both sides to see 12+ free kicks in the game. With bet365, they count offsides as free kicks which makes this even more appealing given both sides average almost two offsides per game in elite competitions this season.
Much of the reasoning is given above but I see this game being fast-paced and both of these sides have a habit of making fouls and picking up cards.