Europa League • Manchester United-AC Milan Preview: Bloody Hell

As if we didn't have enough injuries, this Europa League gig is just ridiculous. I always say that anything can happen in 90 minutes, and that is why we play the game, but Manchester United are definitely favorites to win this tie, as well as the whole competition. Milan have the youngest team in Serie A and one of the youngest in Europe, and we have also had the most injuries in Serie A. Returning to the Champions League is our goal, and finishing top four in the league seems much more viable than getting past Manchester United in the Round of 16 and then winning the Europa League. Plus, just think of the injuries if we tried to go all the way to the final. This match is not just a football match, it's a minefield for new injuries for our team. Bloody hell.

Dalot returns to Old Trafford flying high

Manchester United are in the Europa League having dropped from the Champions League at the group stage. They currently sit second in the English Premier League, having won their derby 2-0 on Sunday and snapped top of the table Manchester City's winning streak. In the league, they are 11 points behind City, but in their second leg of the Round of 32, they were kept to a 0-0 draw by Real Sociedad at home, so maybe there is some hope for us.

Their current form in all competitions is W-D-D-D-W, with a 0-0 score in all three of those draws. For their match on Sunday, Solskjær lined up Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Fred; James, Bruno Fernandes, Rashford; and Martial. Solskjær has plenty of injuries of his own. De Gea, Pogba, Juan Mata, and Jones are all definitely out for this match. Rashford was injured on Sunday and is likely out, with Cavani and van de Beek also struggling with fitness. 

Bruno Fernandes has 23 goals in all competitions this season

There are a number of correlations between these two sides. In addition to both teams currently sitting second in their respective leagues, they are also both using a 4-2-3-1 system. However, one parallel that is most interesting is that both teams are topping the penalty charts this season. United have received 14 penalties in all competitions this season, and Milan lead Europe with 20 penalties given to date. Not only does that place a lot of pressure on the Slovenian ref, Slavko Vinčić, but it also means that both teams are likely to spend a lot of time attacking in the opposition's box.

Pioli's game is a very attacking one this season, however injuries have been in the spotlight ahead of tactics. For this match, Ibrahimovic, Mandzukic, and Bennacer are definitely out. Additionally, Rebic and Calhanoglu are increasingly unlikely to be available. Theo Hernandez did train with the team on Tuesday, but it is unknown as of this writing whether or not any of those three will be fit to make the trip to Manchester. Hauge will also be out, but not due to injury, just due to poor decision making. Dalot, who scored a brilliant goal on Sunday, is owned by Manchester United on loan to Milan. So for him, it will be almost like coming home, except in this game, he'll probably get to play.

One of these guys will likely feature on Thursday, and it's not the former Man United player

With Juventus crashing out of the Champions League yesterday to 10-men Porto, Inter having crashed out in the group stage, and Napoli exiting first the Champions League and then the Europa League, Milan suddenly have yet another disadvantage in the race for top four in Serie A. While there is a small amount of money for playing in the Europa League, this just feels like an unnecessary couple of matches against a team that is older, more experienced, more expensive, and has had more stability at their club than Milan. With the luck both teams have had with injuries this season, it makes you just want to say "Bloody hell!"

This post inspired by the music of The Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated"

Europa League Round of 16, first leg
Manchester United FC vs. AC Milan
Thursday, March 11 • 18:55 CET (12:55 EST)
This match can be streamed on Paramount+ in the U.S.
(formerly CBS All Access - subscription is the same)

Europa League • Manchester United-AC Milan Preview: Bloody Hell Europa League • Manchester United-AC Milan Preview: Bloody Hell Reviewed by Elaine on 11:30 PM Rating: 5
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