The Red Devils in Austria
Linzer Athletik-Sport-Klub welcome none other than Manchester United to the small but cozy Linzer Stadion on Thursday evening in the Europa Leagues round of 16. This is the pairs first meeting in history meaning we are treading on undiscovered waters, read on for my take on it.
The Austrians are having an absolutely stellar domestic season and can be found at a very comfortable first place, 6 points in front of main rivals Red Bull Salzburg.
Proving their worth
Coach Valerian Ismael's men not only navigated through, but also dominated a tricky Europa League group consisting of Sporting, PSV Eindhoven and Rosenborg ending the group phase in first place, a point above the Portuguese.
In great shape
LASK have won 6 of their 8 previous games across all competitions while drawing one and losing the last which is a great haul considering they have played against Red Bull Salzburg, twice, as well as Dutch outfit AZ Alkmaar in the round of 32 within that period of time.
They have also only been defeated twice on their home turf this season (out of 18 home games).
Impressive goal difference
Another impressive statistic is their goal difference of 18-6 meaning that they have averaged over 2 goals a game and conceded less than 1 during their last 8 games which is exactly what a doctor would prescribe before playing one of the seasons most important games against one of the biggest clubs in the world.
The Red Devils will most definitely be in high spirits coming into this game following an undefeated run of 10 straight games which include wins against Chelsea, Manchester City (twice) and Club Brugge in the round of 32 (5-0 at home, 6-1 in total).
Solskjaer's men are not only getting results on the board but are looking the part as well. Their performances have been steadily improving as of late and the possibility of playing in the Champions League next year has gone from tatters to serious contenders in a rather short period of time.
Man of the hour(/season?)
A large part of United's mid-season "resurrection" is largely to do with the acquisition of the mercurial talent that is Bruno Fernandes. The Portuguese hitman has transformed the midfield and given a whole new dimension to their attacking play with his piercing through-balls and intelligent movement.
Improvement across the board
With a defence that has finally started performing at the level expected and a midfield that actually functions going forward Manchester United are definitely favourites to take home this years Europa League and rightly so, but first, a doubleheader against Austria's best team that could prove to be slightly tricky.
LASK are strong at home and have stood up very well against teams United would have a tough time against which is why i am backing LASK to win or draw at 187/100 with Betway.