Match preview: Manchester United vs St Etienne

Manchester United

DATE & TIME: 20:05 GMT 16th February 2017

HOW YOU CAN CATCH IT: Live broadcast on BT Sport

FORM:

United have been beaten just twice since the defeat at Stamford Bridge back in October, though the number of ‘winnable’ draws takes away some of the sheen from this run.

The French side have been consistent all season while being unbeaten in the group stage. Etienne have won four of their last 6 drawing 1 and losing the other to third-placed Nice.

TEAM NEWS:

Jose Mourinho revealed his defensive plans by revealing that Valencia, Bailly, Smalling and Blind will start. That’s right no Shaw. Jones is still recovering from the foot problem he picked up against Hull. Carrick and Rooney are out as precautionary measures.On the other side, striker Robert Beric and winger Oussama Tannane are out. Also, there was indication that even St. Etienne may play an unchanged defence against United.

The matchup is being billed as the Battle of the Pogba’s as brothers Florentin and Paul face each other for the first time professionally. Mourinho joked that Mrs. Pogba probably wants a draw between the two.

United have never lost at home to a French team while the visitors have lost all three games in England including a 2-1 defeat against United back in 1977-78 Cup Winners’ Cup. United are also unbeaten at home since a 2-1 defeat at home to Real Madrid back in 2013. The French team are also unbeaten in their last 10 European games. Mourinho has also lost just 1 UEFA Cup/Europa League game. He won the competition with Porto the last time he contested.

Zlatan will also be licking his lips at the prospect of facing the French team. He has 14 goals in 13 matches against them. But it might be a tough ask this time around as St. Etienne are well drilled defensive unit.

Czech referee Pavel Kralovec will be the man in the middle at Old Trafford. He previously officiated United’s draws with Shakhtar Donetsk and PSV Eindhoven in the 13-14 and 15-16 seasons.

RIVAL WATCH:

Tottenham take on Gent, Villareal and Roma face each other, Athletic Bilbao welcome APOEL in other matches in the Europa League Round of 32 Leg 1.

Meanwhile, opposition boss Christophe Galtier has downplayed the importance of the tie by terming it as the least important matches of the month. Gatlier looks to ensure qualification for next season’s UCL domestically. He also compared Ibrahimovic with Old Trafford legend Eric Cantona. Both players are known for their competitive character on the pitch.

Anthony Martial has also expressed his desire to score against his former team Lyon’s arch rivals.