Liverpool were visited at Anfield by Manchester United in the first leg of 2016 Europa League round of 16. This was the first time the two English clubs met in the European completion. On Thursday, United will be hosting Liverpool at the Old Trafford as they return for the second leg.
Liverpool head into the match with 2-0 advantage from the first legs when they swept aside a desperately poor United at Anfield. During the first half of the first leg tie at Anfield, Liverpool dominated the game and scored the first goal through a penalty in the 20th minute (Daniel Sturridge scored the penalty) after Depay brought down Nathaniel Clyne in the box.
Although David de Gea continued to make world class saves to keep united in the game, Roberto Firmino scored the second for Liverpool from a close range 17 minuet later to ensure the Reds remain deep in the driving seat as they head to the second leg on Thursday.
With the results from the first leg, United will have to work hard to overturn, and manager Louis van Gaal believes his side has a great advantage as their will playing on home ground.
Speaking ahead of the match, Van Gaal said: “We only have to think we have to beat Liverpool—and beat them 2-0 not 3-0 because we can do it in extra time. We can do it 2-0 and then we have a chance to reach the next round. You know we have scored goals within three or four minutes this season so it is possible.”
The red devils have seen some of their key players return from injury. Valencia has trained with the first team for a nearly a week now and may feature on Thursday. However, Marcus Rojo and Schweinsteiger may miss the clash because they are both on the injury lists. Van Gaal will continue to use Chris Smalling and Daley Blind in central defense as Martial, Memphis Depay and Rashford play upfront.
Marouane Fellaini is likely to start in midfield because Van Gaal believes the midfielder’s physicality is enough to break Liverpool’s attacking line.
Meanwhile, speaking ahead of the match via the club’s website, manager Jürgen Klopp said: “It is absolutely clear there is a chance for Manchester United, 100 per cent, that’s football. Anything can happen. But we know we know how to play them. That’s another truth, but it doesn’t mean it is easy for us—we will have to work for this really hard, [we need to be] really concentrated, we need to be brave and aggressive in a legal way. That’s all clear.”
Klopp is likely to feature Firmino as the main striker as Lallana and Coutinho take the attacking roles behind Firmino, Lucas Laiva, James Milner and Henderson will take the central midfield roles.
Manchester United: De Gea, Romero, Darmian, Varela, Smalling, Rojo, Schneiderlin, Fellaini, Carrick, Lingard, Mata, Memphis, Martial, Rashford
Liverpool: Mignolet; Clyne, Skrtel, Sakho, Moreno; Can, Allen; Milner, Coutinho, Lallana; Firmino