After some patchy recent form in the Premier League, Manchester United next face a tough task in Europe when they travel to Spain to take on Sevilla in the Champions League on Wednesday (19:45 GMT, live on BT Sport).
Man Utd have won five, drawn three and lost two of their last 10 league fixtures, which has seen them fall further adrift of runaway leaders Manchester City and back into the clutches of the other sides seeking to secure one of the three remaining top-four positions.
They are currently second in the table, but just four points separate them from Tottenham Hotspur in fifth, while they still have fixtures against Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City to come between now and the end of the campaign. While they should still be fancied to finish in the top four that is not the foregone conclusion it once seemed.
United extended their participation in the FA Cup with a 2-0 win away to Huddersfield on Saturday and it is that competition and the Champions League that now offer their only two shots at silverware this season. Jose Mourinho is, of course, a specialist in knockout tournaments but it remains questionable whether his side are strong enough to seriously challenge in Europe.
Despite all the money that has been spent since Mourinho took over in the summer of 2016, United still lack a clear attacking strategy, while their defensive unit continues to rely on the brilliance of goalkeeper David de Gea to cover up for their deficiencies. Recent reports also suggest that tension is growing between Mourinho and record-signing Paul Pogba over the latter’s role within the team.
With all that said, Man Utd are still difficult opponents, and Mourinho will have no qualms about setting his side up to limit Sevilla’s opportunities to get at his defence. Sit and break is likely to be strategy, and United certainly have the necessary power and pace in attacking areas to cause problems for a Sevilla defence who have struggled against similarly attributed teams so far this season.
There is a lack of dynamism in Sevilla’s defensive unit that has seen them been ripped apart when faced by sides adept at moving forward quickly on the counter. They conceded four or more goals in defeats to Valencia, Real Madrid, Spartak Moscow, Real Betis and Eibar and required two efficient attacking performances to secure 2-2 and 3-3 draws from their two matches against Liverpool during the group stage of the Champions League.
Eduardo Berizzo was their coach during those last-mentioned encounters, but he was sacked at the end of the year and replaced with former Fiorentina and Milan boss (and Fulham striker) Vincenzo Montella. The Italian has struggled to wrestle much more consistency out of the squad but has managed to improve their goal output. He has also overseen progress to the final of the Copa del Rey with two-legged victories over Atletico Madrid and Leganes.
There are certainly players United should be wary of. The attacking midfield line of Pablo Sarabia (who was involved in both goals in Saturday’s 2-1 away to Las Palmas), Franco Vazquez and Joaquin Correa is starting to find its rhythm, while up front, the quick and powerful Luis Muriel is gaining in confidence, although his finishing remains inconsistent. If fit, Ever Banega is the player who will pull the strings for Sevilla in midfield.
The venue will also have an effect on the outcome of Wednesday’s match. Sevilla have only lost once on home soil in any competition over the course of the last 15 months and will be able to count upon the vociferous support of the locals inside the Sanchez Pizjuan stadium. Man Utd have a long and proud history in European competition but have won just three of their 23 matches away to Spanish sides, alongside 10 draws and 10 defeats.
Given Sevilla’s defensive issues, Mourinho’s side should be fancied to get an away goal, but home advantage will still likely be sufficient to drive Sevilla on to either victory or at least a draw. The latter result would ensure the scores remain level ahead of the return leg in Manchester in three weeks time.
Our Preview’s Sevilla vs. Manchester United Betting Tips Verdict
With the usual plethora of betting markets from the top UK online betting sites to choose from for this Champions League game, our preview’s preferred Sevilla vs Man Utd tips are:
- Bet on Sevilla to win on the draw no bet market @ the biggest price 11/10 with William Hill or Paddy Power.
- Back 2-3 goals on the exact total goals market @ best odds of 21/20 with BetVictor.
- Latest betting odds for outright winner of the Champions League.