Manchester United must overcome a one-goal first-leg deficit when they entertain Danish champions Midtjylland in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday if they are to progress to the round of 16.
Louis van Gaal's side fell to a humiliating 2-1 defeat on their trip to Denmark on Feb. 18 and will have to produce a positive result at Old Trafford to avoid exiting the competition in the first knockout round.
Here is a look at the best odds available ahead of Thursday's tie. All odds via Odds Shark.
|Match Odds: Manchester United vs. Midtjylland|
|Manchester United to Win||1-4|
|Midtjylland to Win||14-1|
Manchester United returned to winning ways in the FA Cup on Monday after three games without a victory, downing League 1 side Shrewsbury Town 3-0 in the fifth round. Goals from Chris Smalling, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard proved decisive, but fans' attention was once again drawn to Memphis Depay's lacklustre performance.
His away strike against Midtjylland—his first goal in 14 appearances—may prove crucial in the outcome of the upcoming European tie. However, against lower-league opposition, Memphis failed to truly test the rival goalkeeper, with all nine of his attempts on goal fired off target, per the Daily Post. He has scored just six times in his 37 outings for club and country this season.
United skipper Wayne Rooney remains sidelined with a knee injury, which is expected to keep him out of action for the next five weeks, according to Sky Sports. Anthony Martial has been handed the responsibility of spearheading the United attack from a central role, but it will be up to the likes of Juan Mata, Lingard and especially Memphis to contribute in the attacking third.
Manchester United @ManUtd
#mufc have been putting the work in ahead of facing Midtjylland... https://t.co/9YyEzNzmzg2016-2-24 15:00:09
The former PSV Eindhoven starlet certainly had an impressive track record in front of goal in his homeland, having ended last season as the Eredivisie's top scorer with 22 goals to his name, per StatBunker. However, that form has eluded him since his much-publicised £25 million transfer to Old Trafford.
The youngster possesses the attributes to become a key player for United, with quick pace, tight control and wonderful dribbling ability. However, he has lacked incisiveness around the goalmouth, and despite improving upon his work rate and selflessness, Depay must become more clinical if he is to establish himself with at Old Trafford.
For opponents Midtjylland, their season was given a much-needed shot in the arm following a remarkable victory over the Premier League heavyweights. Per Soccerway, the Danes had won just one of their last 10 matches in all competitions before the arrival of the Red Devils to MCH Arena but will kick-off their second-leg tie with a worthy lead.
They have had a whole week to prepare for their historic trip to Manchester, with no Superliga matches scheduled between the two European encounters. With United's support demanding victory on Thursday, Midtjylland may face a different beast to the one they encountered at home, and goalkeeper Mikkel Andersen is expected to be in for a long night between the sticks.
The 27-year-old stopper has experience playing in England on his CV thanks to his short spells with Reading and Portsmouth. However, he never faced a top-flight side during his time at either side, with his appearances coming in the Championship and League 1 respectively.
Andersen was largely untroubled in the first meeting. He palmed away a decent set-piece effort from Memphis and was unfortunate to concede after his defence left him unguarded and unprotected. It is unlikely he will have such a quiet 90 minutes when he walks out for the deciding tie.
United fans will demand Van Gaal urges his players to play for nothing less than a win in this second-leg clash, with supporters already dismayed at their inability to advance through the Champions League group stage.
Elimination from Europe's second-tier at the first challenge would heap further pressure on the beleaguered Dutch boss, so Van Gaal must make a comprehensive victory a priority if he is to maintain his position in the dugout at the Theatre of Dreams.