Manchester United vs Roma | Thursday 29th April 2021, 20:00 | BT Sport
It’s a huge game at Old Trafford on Thursday night as The Red Devils welcome AS Roma in what promises to be an exciting showdown.
United know they’ll be playing elite football next season as they occupy second spot in the Premier League with just five games remaining. However, Roma do not have that luxury and need to win this competition if they have a hope of playing in Europe in the next campaign.
It has all the necessary ingredients required for an entertaining matchup.
● In Europe this season, their games have seen two or more goals on 10/12 occasions.
● Have conceded in half of their games in Europe this campaign.
● Have taken 13 or more free kicks in all 12 European matches this season.
● When playing in Europe, their opponents have seen 2+ cards on eight occasions – 67% of the time.
● Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire and Scott McTominay return for Manchester United after serving a one-match ban in the Europa league last time out.
● Paul Pogba and Edinson Cavani should return to the starting XI on Thursday night after being partially rested for Sunday's 0-0 draw with Leeds.
● Cavani has nine career goals against Roma making them his favourite Italian team to score against.
● In Europe this season, their matches have seen at least two or more goals on 11/12 occasions.
● Have scored in 11 of their 12 European matches this season and in all of their away games.
● Have allowed their opposition to take 13+ free kicks in 10/12 UEL matches.
● Have seen two or more cards in 8/12 UEL games and in four of their six away games.
● Roma's injury problems have subsided significantly in recent weeks with former Manchester United duo Chris Smalling and Henrikh Mkhitaryan notably back.
● Against no English side has Edin Dzeko scored more goals in his career than Manchester United (6). The former Manchester City striker will hope to start against his old rivals on Thursday.
● Bryan Cristante is set to start for the Italians with Gianluca Mancini suspended.
● Leonardo Spinazzola or Bruno Peres will play left wing-back.
● Pedro and Nicolo Zaniolo are the only players expected to miss out for Roma on Thursday night.
Referee: Carlos Del Cerro Grande
● Is averaging 3.50 yellow cards per game in Europe this season.
● Is awarding nearly 27 fouls per game in Europe.
● Has already overseen one game featuring Roma, he showed them five yellows and awarded 15 fouls against them.
A huge game for both of these sides. It looks like both of their domestic seasons are pretty much settled.
Manchester United are, barring any implosions, essentially guaranteed to finish in the top four of the EPL, in turn qualifying for next season's Champions League. For Roma, it looks like they’ve left it too late to challenge for the European spots as they sit in seventh, six points adrift of Lazio having played a game more.
For Manchester United, this is a great chance of Ole picking up some silverware. However for Roma, it’s do or die. They need to win this if they want to be playing football amongst the elite next season.
My first pick is for there to be at least two goals in the game and for The Red Devils to take 13+ free kicks. I’m expecting Roma to throw everything at it considering the importance of this tie to them. Both of these teams' respective games in Europe have seen a plethora of goals and with the way these two like to play, it’s set up for goals.
Roma enjoy holding the possession, looking for openings and trying to gain an advantage through their patience. Meanwhile, United seem to be more lethal when playing on the counter, allowing the likes of Rashford, James and Greenwood to utilise their pace.
It’s likely that Cavani starts here and he’ll be looking to pounce. With that, should come plenty of fouls from Roma.
My second pick is for Roma to score and also for La Lupa to pick up 20+ booking points in the game. I do expect United to counter and Roma cannot afford for this tie to go badly and will do anything to stop said counters.
United’s opponents in Europe this season have picked up a lot of cards and they are the most fouled side per game on average in this competition (12.3 times per game).
With Del Cerro Grande already showing Roma a colossal five yellow cards earlier on this season, I think they pick up at least a couple here.