Manchester United, after a tiring game against the Hammers in the FA Cup are back in action this mid-week in a crunch tie against nemesis Liverpool for the 2nd leg of the Europa League tie. The first leg ended in a 2-0 victory for Liverpool needing the Red Devils with a lot to do at Old Trafford on Thursday.
It is one of the biggest games in world football and will surely be an entertaining one for the neutral. Here are 5 questions that will be answered in this game:
- Can Firmino continue his stellar form?
Roberto Firmino now has 9 goals and 4 assists in the last 14 games for Liverpool in all competition and also netted in the first leg of this tie. This is a serious run of form that seems to not end anytime soon. The Brazilian is playing with loads of confidence and looks like a player who can be too hot to handle for the Red Devils. It will be interesting to see if Firmino can keep up his superb goal scoring form in recent times.
- Can Louis van Gaal prepare the perfect plan?
The Manchester United manager has often been accused of not playing the right way against a certain opposition and he may have repeated the same mistake in the first leg of this tie. But with the team having to go for a victory on Thursday, Louis van Gaal should choose the right personal and use the right plan to get anything from this game against Liverpool. It is a tough ask for the Manchester outfit to qualify for the next round.
- Manchester Untied to repeat history?
Only one team has ever progressed in an all-English European tie after losing the first leg by two goals – United themselves against Tottenham in the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1963-64. United have also achieved the same feat three other times in Europe, against Athletic Bilbao, Barcelona and, most recently Olympiakos in 2013-14. It will be interesting to see if they can do it again against their rivals.
- Can United reduce the burden on De Gea?
The Spanish shotstopper has been in sublime for the Red Devils this season. He has already won them a number of points in the domestic league and is also the only reason why United are still in with a chance in this tie. De Gea pulled out a number of saves in the first leg and will surely be under pressure once again at Old Trafford this Thursday. It will be important for the home side to reduce the work load on their goal keeper.
- Can Liverpool steal the bragging rights?
This encounter is the first one between these two teams in European competitions. Liverpool have already gone one up after the first leg victory and the fans on the Red of Merseyside will be ecstatic if they can complete the first European double over their cross town rivals in Untied. However, it will not be easy for them even with a two goal lead away from home and will have to be at their best to qualify for the next round.