Preview: Copenhagen stand in United’s way for a Europa League semi-final in Cologne

Preview: Copenhagen stand in United’s way for a Europa League semi-final in Cologne

Manchester United -v- FC Copenhagen

UEFA Europa League

RheinEnergieSTADION, Cologne, Germany

Monday 10 August 2020, KO 20:00 BST

Referee: Clément Turpin  Assistants: Nicolas Danos, Cyril Gringore 

Fourth Official: William Collum

VAR: François Letexier Assistant VAR: Jérôme Brisard

Manchester United will be pitted against FC Copenhagen in the quarter-final of the UEFA Europa League on Monday evening which will be played at the RheinEnergieSTADION in Cologne. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side earned their place in the last eight of the competition by Beating Linzer ASK 7-1 on aggregate, scoring five goals in the first leg beck in March, winning 2-1 on Wednesday evening. Copenhagen beat İstanbul Başakşehir 3-1 on aggregate to reach this stage.

Solskjaer’s side earned a place in the UEFA Champions League next season by finishing third in the Premier League this season, beating Leicester City 2-0 in the final match of the season, finishing four points ahead of Leicester, a team who were 14 point ahead of them earlier in the season. United will be able to play for fun and pride in this tournament knowing that they have nothing to lose and everything to win. This could be the start of something special for Solskjaer especially facing compatriot Ståle Solbakken. Solskjaer said:

“I used to play with Ståle Solbakken, he’s a good friend of mine – we’ve been in touch. We wished each other good luck [before the last matches] and said hope to see you in Germany.

“They did their job, we did our job, so on to the next one. Ståle’s teams are always well organised and difficult to play against. Very talented young players with experience. It’s going to be a difficult one.”

Form: United defeated once in their last six matches with Copenhagen defeated twice. United have scored more goals in the last six matches, just one more though. Time for the big guns to shine?

Manchester United: WWDLWD

Linzer ASK 2-1 W, Leicester City 2-0 W, West Ham United 1-1 D, Chelsea 3-1 L, Crystal Palace 2-0 W, Southampton 2-2 D

FC Copenhagen: WWWLDL

İstanbul Başakşehir 3-0 W, Nordsjælland 2-1 W, AaB Aalborg 1-0 W, Aarhus Gymnastikforening 4-2 L, Brøndby 0-0 D, FC Midtjylland 3-1 L

Top Scorers: Anthony Martial leading the way as United’s top scorer, posing a challenge to Marcus Rashford for the remainder of the season. Copenhagen’s top scorer (still at the club) is Jonas Wind.

Manchester United Goals: 23 – Anthony Martial, 22 – Marcus Rashford, 17 – Mason Greenwood, 10 – Bruno Fernandes, 5 – Odion Ighalo, Scott McTominay, 4 – Daniel James, Jesse Lingard, 3 – Harry Maguire, Juan Mata, 2 – Fred, Own Goal, Andreas Pereira, 1 – Diogo Dalot, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba, Luke Shaw, Brandon Williams, Ashley Young

United started to falter at the end of the season with players clearly suffering from fatigue. Most of United’s squad were rested from the round of 16 victory over Linzer ASK on Wednesday, meaning they will have had a suitable break ready for the latter stages of the competition. Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Bruno Fernandes will be seeking to score more goals this season with United on the hunt for a major trophy – last winning the Europa League in 2017.

FC Copenhagen Goals: 13 – Pieros Sotiriou, 12 – Dame N’Doye, 10 – Jonas Wind, 8 – Michael Santos, 7 – Mohamed Daramy, 6 – Own Goal, Jens Stage, 5 – Pep Biel, 4 – Viktor Fischer, 3 – Zeca, 2 – Rasmus Falk, 1 – Karlo Bartolec, Nicklas Bendtner, Pierre Bengtsson, Mikkel Kaufmann, Robert Skov, Nicolaj Thomsen

Copenhagen finished second to Midtjylland in the Danish Superliga regular season, finishing second against in the Championship round with Midtjylland finishing at the top once again. This puts the Danish side into the Europa League second qualification round next season but they will be seeking to go as far as they can this season to try and win a Champions League place next season, which might be a little too tough for them considering the club still remaining in the Europa League this season.

Team News: United missing three players due to injury with Copenhagen missing three to injury and one to suspension. Solskjaer to play his best XI once again?

Solskjaer looks set to be without Axel Tuanzebe (ankle/foot), Phil Jones (knee) and Luke Shaw (ankle) for the remainder of the season. However, United have suitable replacements in the team for all three of the players but squad depth may mean the manager will utilise some youth players in the squad in this competition. Victor Lindelof was rested against LASK and not injured which is good news. Harry Maguire is desperate to continue playing this season. Solskjaer said:

“First of all, he’s desperate to play, he’s the captain. There’s a reason why he’s the captain: he always wants to play, but he’s always ready to play.

“He’s missed one game, two games this season maybe through some illness, and I think he just gets sharper and sharper the more he plays. He’ll get his time off after this tournament, so no worries about that.”

Solbakken looks set to be without Michael Santos who is suspended for this match – he had scored eight goals this season. Whereas Ragnar Sigurðsson (unspecified), Viktor Fischer (groin), and Nicolaj Thomsen (unspecified) all look set to miss this match due to injury. Top scorers Pieros Sotiriou (13) and Dame N’Doye (12) have now left the club. Solbakken, speaking about United, told UEFA:

“United are big, big favorites. It’s about executing our game as [well] as possible, and obviously we have to take care of many of the aspects that Manchester United have to their game.

They are very fast and are good at counterattacking since [Bruno] Fernandes arrived. They also do very quick combinations around the box. It’s a lot of things to be scared about, but we just have to make sure that we follow the plan and see how far that brings us.”

Predicted Starting XI: Solskjaer to start full strength squad to blow Copenhagen out of the water and earn semi-final place in the Europa League on the hunt for first trophy?

Solskjaer will recall Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Victor Lindelof against Copenhagen on Monday evening in Cologne. United will be seeking to go all the way in the Europa League this season, despite already earning a place in the Champions League. Playing for fun and playing for pride along the way.

Match Prediction: United might have a tough task ahead of them with Copenhagen looking good in their last match. 14 years ago each team won in the Champions League group stages.

United and Copenhagen met in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League during the 2006/07 season. At Old Trafford, United won the match 3-0 with goals from Paul Scholes, John O’Shea and Kieran Richardson. In the away match played at the Parken Stadion, United lost 1-0 with scoring the only goal of the game. United have not faced the Danish side for 14 years, which were the first two matches between the two clubs in their history. This one-legged match will be a good one.

United have played three other Danish teams in European competition starting with Brøndby in the 1998/99 season in the group stages of the Champions League. United won the away match 6-2, winning 5-0 at Old Trafford. During the 2008/09 season in the group stages of the Champions League, United beat Aalborg 3-0 away and drew 2-2 at Old Trafford. The most recent matches were against FC Midtjylland in the Europa League round fo 32, losing 2-1 away and winning 5-1 at home (6-3 on aggregate).

Manchester United 2-1 FC Copenhagen

Written by John Walker

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