Manchester United need to put the loss at the weekend behind their back and will have to come out all guns blazing for their European tie on Thursday as it now seems to be the only possible way for the club to enter the Champions League next season.
They will face FC Midtjylland from the Danish League in the Round of 32 of the European competition.
Here is everything you need to know about United’s opponent in the Europa League this mid-week:
FC Midtjylland was formed in 1999 as a merger between Ikast FC and Herning Fremad, instigated by a carpenter and a car dealer, and they were promoted to the top flight in 2000. Though there were scares of bankruptcy several years ago, the club has now successfully stayed in the top flight of the nation for 16 consecutive years.
After a series of respectable Superliga finishes, it was the arrival of Englishman Matthew Benham as majority shareholder that provided the catalyst. Benham made his millions with his company, Smartodds, using mathematical models to help predict football results and soon sought to apply similar logic to Midtjylland following his £6.2m investment in the summer of 2014.
Last year in May, they made history by lifting the domestic cup for the first time. It was an incredible run right from the first game in a season where they were out of the top spot only for two weeks, They beat Copenhagen to the title by just 4 points and became the Danish Champions for the first time in their history. They clinched the title with three games to spare after a 0-0 draw against FC Vestsjaelland.
Midtjylland have had considerable success from set-pieces and this has been attributed to their specialist coaching in this area. The club uses an expected goals model to provide coaches with added in-game insight into how the team is performing. There is even a mind coach to deal with the psychological aspects of the game.
Although Midtjylland’s Champions League run ended in an away-goals defeat to APOEL in August, they qualified for the Europa League group stage by seeing off Southampton. The Danish Superliga season also began encouragingly and they topped the table with 27 points from their first 12 games. But they have started to stutter under new coach Jess Thorup since then.
Midtjylland just scraped through their Europa league group taking just one point in their final four games. In fact, they have won just one game in the last nine in all competitions.
Given their recent form, Manchester United will surely start as firm favorites But it will not come as a shock if the Danish club present United with more problems by causing an upset on home soil.