Man Utd v Roma preview: Europa League semi-final starts in England

Roma play the most important game of their season so far as they take on Manchester United on Thursday.

With everything hinging on the Europa League now, Roma will be hoping for a successful trip to England for the first leg of their semi-final.

It will be the first time they have played on British soil since 2018, and the target will be to do better than both that game against Liverpool and their previous attempts against United.

Having won the away legs of all of their knockout-stage games so far in this competition, Roma will be aiming to make it four out of four. To do so, they will have to overcome a United side who have gone unbeaten in their past six games.

The Red Devils have lost every semi-final they have contested under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, so that could either be a good omen or a reminder that Roma need to realise how hungry their opponents will be. It promises to be an exciting clash between two sides with lots to play for.

The game provides Chris Smalling and Henrikh Mkhitaryan with the opportunity to return to their former home. Meanwhile, ex-Manchester City man Edin Dzeko will aim to continue his good scoring record against his old rivals.

Roma will have to navigate the first leg without defender Gianluca Mancini, who is suspended, and wingers Pedro and Stephan El Shaarawy, who haven’t made the squad. Defensively, that means the back three will likely consist of Smalling, Bryan Cristante and Roger Ibanez. In the front three, Mkhitaryan and Dzeko may be joined by Lorenzo Pellegrini, unless he plays in a deeper role and Carles Perez – a goalscorer in the loss to Cagliari at the weekend – starts instead.

As for United, the hosts have a full-strength squad. Marcus Rashford appears to have fully recovered from a foot injury, giving Solskjaer plenty of options to choose from in attack.

Former Palermo and Napoli striker Edinson Cavani has a decent record against Roma, which the visitors will look to stop him continuing. Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba also have history in Serie A and will likely be chief creators from midfield.

Another player in that area of the pitch who could be important for United is Fred. Roma boss Paulo Fonseca knows all about him, having helped him become a top-class player at Shakhtar Donetsk. He is just one of many important players in the United squad that Roma will have to come up with a strategy to counteract.

Domestically, both clubs have struggled in bigger games this season. Now, though, one will get the chance to reach one of the biggest games of them all: the Europa League final.

Roma need a strong performance in the first leg and will look to go on the hunt for at least one away goal.

The game kicks off at 8pm UK time and will be live on BT Sport 2. Leave your prediction in the poll below.


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