Manchester United’s busy schedule continues this week as they face Club Brugge in the second leg of their UEFA Europa League Second Round tie.
The two sides played out a 1-1 draw in Belgium last week, which had no negative affect on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side over the weekend as they ran out comfortable 3-0 winners over Watford in the Premier League.
Victory moved United up to fifth in the table, overtaking Sheffield United and Tottenham Hotspur, but remaining three points behind Chelsea, who occupy the final Champions League spot.
Of course, fifth place could be enough to qualify for next season’s competition as Manchester City are facing a potential two-year ban from Europe’s elite club cup competition.
The sports betting sites believe that this should be a comfortable win for the English side, with their odds as short as 1/2 to win in 90 minutes on Thursday.
Manchester United are away to Everton this Sunday in a key battle for that top four finish, or even a top five finish. The Toffees are down in 11th but only five points behind Solskjaer’s side themselves.
Therefore, the Norwegian manager may opt to rotate his squad for the visit of Club Brugge on Thursday.
Regulars Anthony Martial, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Victor Lindelof and Nemanja Matic all started the first leg, just as they did against Watford on Sunday. All five can be expected to face Everton this weekend, which is why we believe they should be rested for the Europa League. Simply put, Champions League qualification via the league is more important than the Belgian opposition.
This would open up opportunities for the likes of Sergio Romero, Eric Bailly, Brandon Williams, Diogo Dalot, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Mason Greenwood and Odion Ighalo to start.
There’s no doubt that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would fancy some silverware at the end of the season, but he must be confident in his rotated side eliminating Club Brugge from the Europa League on Thursday.
The fixture list doesn’t ease up after Everton either as United go to Derby County in the FA Cup next Thursday too, before hosting Manchester City in the Premier League on Sunday. Next week would be another opportunity to rotate his squad also, but the Manchester derby and Everton must be the manager’s priorities.
Meanwhile, Club Brugge were 1-0 winners over Sporting Charleroi in the Belgian First Division A on Sunday, maintaining their nine-point lead over Gent. They have lost just one league game this season but are winless in their seven European matches (D4, L3), since the play-off rounds. Their 2-2 draw against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu was certainly their most impressive result in Europe this season, but they were comfortably beaten 3-1 at home by them, as well as being thrashed 5-0 by Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League group stage.