Real Betis welcomes Manchester United to the Benito Villamarin Stadium for the last-16 second leg on Thursday, needing nothing short of a miracle to stay alive in the Europa League.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side were thrashed 4-1 by the Red Devils in the first leg last week, the perfect response to Erik ten Hag’s XI’s humiliation in Liverpool.
While Ayoze Perez’s well-taken goal on his return to Old Trafford gave Betis hope, Pellegrini’s return to Manchester was finally a horrible affair for the erstwhile Manchester City manager, whose men have been vanquished in a second-half assault. Ten Hag’s half-time pep talk was so well received, as Antony, Bruno Fernandes, and Wout Weghorst all made contributions to the rout, which left Betis on the verge of elimination.
Los Verdiblancos’ defeat at the Theatre of Dreams was sandwiched between stalemates in La Liga with Real Madrid and Villarreal, who were held to a 1-1 draw at the weekend by Yeremy, leaving them 5th in the table but only three points behind Real Sociedad midst their counterparts’ downturn.
Valencia lost 3-0 to Basel in the first leg of the 2013-14 Europa League quarter-finals before storming to a 5-0 second-leg victory – no other team has recovered from a three-goal deficit to advance from a knockout tie in Europe’s secondary competition. Man United fans have experienced the true meaning of a tumultuous week, which culminated in a high-octane goalless draw against Southampton, in which goalkeepers and the woodwork stole the show.
Casemiro was sent off in the first half for a dangerous challenge on Carlos Alcaraz, and no fewer than 28 shots were fired across the 90 minutes at Old Trafford, but the net did not shake once as the two sides played a gripping stalemate.
Any fleeting hopes of Ten Hag’s side challenging the top two in the Premier League table must surely be dismissed, but further knockout success remains very much on the cards, and Man United have never been eliminated from the Europa League after winning the first leg.
Having won just two of their past six away games does not portend all that well for Ten Hag’s team, but Man United have gone undefeated in their last four trips to Spain and merely need to avoid a catastrophic collapse to put their name in the pot for the quarter-finals.
Team News- Manchester United
Casemiro’s four-game domestic ban will not prevent him from playing this week, but Ten Hag must still consider a slew of injury concerns, with Donny van de Beek and Christian Eriksen already ruled out.
Alejandro Garnacho also left Old Trafford on crutches over the weekend, raising concerns that the teenager’s ankle injury is worse than first thought, while Victor Lindelof (illness) and Marcel Sabitzer (knock) will also need to be evaluated.
On a more positive note, Anthony Martial is improving his fitness in team training and could be considered for some minutes in Spain, but Ten Hag is still wary of the Frenchman and will almost certainly only name him on the bench.
Team News- Real Betis
Injury added insult to injury for Betis at Old Trafford, as centre-back Luiz Felipe played the entire 90 minutes but left with hamstring discomfort, and he could now be out until after the international break – Victor Ruiz should fill in.
Felipe is one of three players who will miss Thursday’s game, along with long-term knee injury Nabil Fekir, who will not play again this season, and Juan Cruz, and yet William Carvalho returns from a La Liga ban.
Joaquin made his sixth Europa League start of the season in the first leg, but Sergio Canales’ return to full fitness may force his 41-year-old fellow countryman out of the starting lineup here.
Real Betis 1-3 Manchester United