Man United to rotate and beat resilient Astana
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United welcome the five-time reigning champions of the Kazakhstan Premier League FC Astana to Old Trafford for their opening Europa League encounter. Astana are very much Europa League stalwarts at this point, entering the competition for the fourth successive year having grafted their way in through a long qualification battle. Last time around under Jose Mourinho, the Red Devils won the whole shebang in 2016/17 beating Ajax in the final.
United’s 1-0 win over Leicester City at the weekend was the fourth consecutive Premier League match where they scored exactly one goal, showing their attacking deficiencies having lost some depth and options in the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez to Inter Milan towards the end of the European transfer window. Both teams have scored in just five of Astana’s last 15 outings, they come into this one as major underdogs.
Solskjaer set to rotate
Young guns such as Tahith Chong and Axel Tuanzebe are likely to get a start in this one, however with a point to prove I feel they could make United more dangerous and less predictable. At the end of the day the gulf in class between these two sides is clear to see and therefore some rotation in the squad should not affect the outcome of the match too much. It will also be an intriguing night for some fans who have been keenly awaited the introduction of Mason Greenwood from the offing since his impressive display against Cardiff City in the final of game of the 2018/19 season, to much surprise the Bluebirds won 2-0 that day.
Who will turn the screw?
Astana will get behind the ball and make it awkward for United, they will have to be smart in breaking them down. Avoiding a hammering and maintaining a respectable goal difference could be crucial to a successful group stage campaign, bettering the result in the two fixtures with United as that of AZ Alkmaar and Partizan Belgrade in Group L could stand the Kazakhstanis in good stead for an unlikely progression. Juan Mata could have the experience and know how to break them down now as a fringe player who Solskjaer has previously said is a valuable member of his squad for the season ahead.
United will have far too much quality and should put on a show in front of their home crowd against a resolute Astana side who will look to break up play and complicate things, in a game where the Red Devils will have most of possession.
Manchester United – Astana Betting Tip
Manchester United to Win + Under 3.5 goals with Bethard at odds of 91/100.