Date: 29th April 2021 at 3:38pm
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Manchester United host Roma on Thursday evening knowing that a first-leg victory in their Europa League semi-final tie could go a long way towards determining the success of their entire season. 

Despite sitting second in the Premier League with just five games remaining, United have been left in runaway neighbours’ City’s shadows in recent months and, after departing the FA Cup at the quarter final stage, the Europa League remains their only chance of silverware this term.

Victory over the two legs could tee up an all-English final, with rivals Arsenal facing Spanish side Villarreal in the other semi-final on Thursday evening.

United have been in strong form of late, but were held to a goalless draw by Leeds United in their last Premier League outing on Sunday.

With their top-four place and Champions League qualification all but secure, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær may opt to focus on the Europa League and that could have a huge impact on his team selection.

Below is Shoot’s predicted starting XI which included a handful of changes from the side that were held by Leeds at the weekend.

Goalkeeper

David De Gea‘s United future has been called into question since the Spaniard was replaced as number one by teammate Dean Henderson in February, and the 30-year-old’s decade-long spell at the club could come to an end this summer. The Spain international was selected for both legs of the quarter final victory over Granada, and will likely keep his place between the sticks for Thursday’s game.

Defenders

The ever-reliable Aaron Wan-Bissaka has missed just five games all season for the Red Devils, and will be called up on for his defensive capabilities against a dangerous Roma side. Captain Harry Maguire could be partnered by Eric Bailly, who may be preferred to Victor Lindelof at centre-back. Luke Shaw, who has forced himself back into the frame for the England squad off the back of his most impressive season in a United shirt, will expect to start at left-back over Alex Telles.

Midfielders

Fred will likely be selected to partner Scott McTominay at the base of United’s midfield. The pair have been selected together more often than Nemanja Matic in recent months, and will expect to continue together against Roma. Talisman Bruno Fernandes, despite his stuttering form of late, will undoubtedly start at the heart of United’s three attackers, in behind the lone striker. Summer signing Donny van de Beek is still struggling for regular game time at Old Trafford and will likely have to settle once again for a place on the bench.

Fernandes has scored just twice in his last 12 games.

Forwards

Solskjaer told reporters ahead of the tie that Marcus Rashford is ‘through the worst’ of a foot injury that plagued him for the past few weeks. The England international played the majority of the Leeds game and will expect to be chosen on the left of Fernandes. Paul Pogba, meanwhile, could start on the right after being benched last time out. The Frenchman replaced Daniel James against Leeds and will likely be given the nod to start in what could be United’s biggest game of the season so far. Veteran striker Edinson Cavani will likely be called on for his experience in big games, while youngster Mason Greenwood, who has found form of late with five goals in his last seven games across all competitions, will be disappointed to miss out but could be called upon from the bench.

 
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