Manchester United - FC Midtjylland Preview: Reds face second test in defining week

With FA Cup progression confirmed, Manchester United turn their attentions to the Europa League, and the task of overturning a 2-1 deficit against FC Midtjylland.

In the previous leg, United were far from their best and were deservedly beaten by the Danish side, leaving United manager Louis van Gaal to face fierce criticism.

The Dutchman is very much in need of a positive result to relieve the pressure on him, as he bids to keep United fighting on as many fronts as possible this season.

United must turn up

Ahead of the tie at Old Trafford, van Gaal said: “We have to keep the ball better and we have to move the ball quicker- that’s always what we have to do.

I think Midtjylland has very good organisation, very detailed and the players want to perform that organisation. They play with diagonal pressing and when I see the data of Midtjylland they have always won against English opponents.

Van Gaal admitted that overturning the 2-1 deficit will not be easy and is expecting a similar match to that of the first leg, but the Dutchman knows the red devils must score in order to progress and must play at a higher tempo to destabilise the organisation of the visitors.

The United boss also warned that Midtjylland will do everything to make the most of their first appearance at Old Trafford: “I think most of their players shall be excited and for them it is the biggest game of their lives, especially at Old Trafford and not at home.

Looking to build on FA Cup win

The red devils come into the game under pressure despite beating Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup last time out, they were without a win in three matches two of which were defeats against relegation-threatened Sunderland, as well as Thursday nights Danish opponents.

Chris Smalling celebrates a scruffy opener | Photo: John Peters/Manchester United
Chris Smalling celebrates a scruffy opener | Photo: John Peters/Manchester United

Injury-hit United

United’s tough task has been made harder as LVG’s side are blighted by injuries. Captain Wayne Rooney, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Luke Shaw are just a few of United’s stars which are out for the long term, but Antonio Valencia is nearing fitness and Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson could feature as they too seem to have recovered from injuries. 

Adnan Januzaj also misses out due to being cup-tied after representing Borussia Dortmund earlier in the season.