Džeko to haunt United at Old Trafford once more
Thursday night sees the semi-final stage of this season's Europa League get under way, and once more, it features two English sides in different ties. Whilst La Liga outfit Villarreal take on Arsenal, Manchester United must overcome Serie A giants Roma over two legs to reach another final on the continent. The Red Devils have only conceded once in the knockout phase, and have rightly been tagged as favourites in this encounter. Nevertheless, there are plenty of threats in the visiting ranks, some of whom will be very familiar to the legions of fans the red half of Manchester have. Leading the line will be Edin Džeko, and he loves a goal at Old Trafford. Read our preview here:
Bruno lacks punch
With second in the Premier League now all but secured, some of the focus ought to turn to the drop-off in form of talisman Bruno Fernandes. The Portuguese playmaker had hitherto been the player Ole Gunnar Solskjær turned to to get them out of the mire with his trickery, eye for a pass, and expert dead balls. The nature of the truncated season has obviously had an effect on his performances, as his output has significantly dried up since the beginning of March. Against Roma though, he should have some joy, given that I Giallorossi are weakest in the zone between the central midfield and defensive trio. Edinson Cavani will relish playing on the shoulder of the last stopper, compensating for his slowing legs with his predatory anticipation.
Much Amadou about something
Paulo Fonseca's men prepared for this game by slipping to a dreadfully disappointing 3-2 defeat away at relegation threatened Cagliari, a result that leaves their chances of featuring in a UEFA competition in 2021/2022 hanging by a thread. A four match winless streak is not the way the visitors would've liked or anticipated heading into their clash at Old Trafford, but could be to their advantage if their opponents think they'll be a soft touch. Fonseca only has long-term absentees Pedro and Nicolò Zaniolo to do without, although the centre of midfield looks suspect. Jordan Veretout is stronger going forward than he is helping to screen the defensive line, and pivot partner Amadou Diawara lacks the necessary concentration and discipline required. That ought to mean United will prosper centrally, but they'd be remiss to overlook the threats posed by the wing-backs and the front three, including former Red Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Away goal or go home
The defensive frailties of Fonseca's 3-4-3 have been plain to see all season long, and there is definitely scope for United to run rings around them, should their most skilled individuals rise to the occasion. However, the dangerous Džeko will have the beating of the hosts' own backline on crosses and from flighted free-kicks, so the main realistic objective for Roma should be to snatch a precious away goal to return to Italy with. 888sport have odds of 3.80 for the Bosnian hitman to score at anytime in the 90 minutes.