On Thursday night, Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United face FC Rostov in the Europa League’s Round of 16 first leg.
In their current European journey, Manchester United emerged from their fairly tricky group in second position, losing only to Feyenoord (1-0) in Holland, and 2-1 to Fenerbahce in Turkey.
Since their group stage success, they have seen off opposition from Saint-Etienne. A strong performance at Old Trafford gave the English side a 3-0 lead in a game which saw midfield maestro Paul Pogba play against his older brother Florentin, a memorable occasion for both talented players.
Although 3-0 down, Saint-Etienne fans welcomed Manchester United with a passionate atmosphere, however their hopes died down after Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored the only goal of the match, firing Manchester United into the last-16.
FC Rostov found themselves in the Champions League group stages, qualifying after beating Anderlecht and Ajax, but faced a tricky group containing Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid and PSV Eindhoven.
Although losing 5-0 in Germany, Rostov pulled off an unlikely victory in the return fixture, beating the German champions 3-2, thanks to goals from Sardar Azmoun, Dmitry Poloz and Christian Noboa.
Rostov however, didn’t qualify from their group, instead being demoted into the Europa League where they faced Sparta Prague in the Round of 32. A 1-1 draw against the Czech side was followed up by a 4-0 thrashing in Russia, entering the side into the Round of 16.
Rostov’s strong form at home could prove worrying for Manchester United fans, making this fixture a lot more competitive than anticipated.
Manchester United will be without top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic following his three-match ban for violent conduct during the AFC Bournemouth tie on Saturday. It is also confirmed that Wayne Rooney and Luke Shaw haven’t travelled with the squad to Russia, whilst defender Eric Bailly misses out through suspension.
Although United fans will be pleased to hear that Mkhitaryan could make a return following his injury.
Rostov will be hoping their forwards, Aleksandr Bukharov and Azmoun can continue their rich vein of form after both netting twice in their 6-0 league win over Tom Tonsk.