Man United vs Betis Live Final Football Match March 2023
With nightmares of their Anfield mauling still fresh in the memory, Manchester United return to Europa League action with the visit of Real Betis to Old Trafford for the first leg of their last-16 tie on Thursday night. The Red Devils progressed past Barcelona 4-3 on aggregate in the knockout round playoffs, while Manuel Pellegrini’s crop beat Roma, HJK Helsinki and Ludogorets to top spot in Group C. The highs of ending a six-year trophy drought and eliminating Barcelona from European competition paled into insignificance for Man United on Sunday afternoon, as a mortified Erik ten Hag witnessed the Red Devils suffer their worst defeat in Premier League history at the hands of a merciless Liverpool.
Still coping without long-term absentees Donny van de Beek and Christian Eriksen, Man United have now been handed a fresh concern over Casemiro, who was noticeably off his game at Anfield and reportedly picked up an injury in the process. The Brazilian will be assessed ahead of kickoff alongside Victor Lindelof, who missed Sunday’s defeat with a minor unspecified problem, while Ten Hag is refusing to put a timeframe on Anthony Martial’s recovery as he battles a hip problem. A refresh should certainly be in order after such a humbling evening against Liverpool, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire and Tyrell Malacia potentially coming into the backline, especially with Luke Shaw and Raphael Varane emerging as doubts before kickoff at the weekend. Meanwhile, Betis boss Pellegrini recently suffered a devastating blow with key attacker Nabil Fekir, as the Frenchman – who was recently linked with Man United – has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with an anterior cruciate ligament injury.
Midfielder Juan Cruz is also expected to miss out after exacerbating an existing muscular problem, but on a brighter note, Sergio Canales trained on Monday after missing the draw with Real Madrid with a quadriceps issue. No fewer than four Real Betis players are walking a tightrope here, as Claudio Bravo, German Pezzella, Luiz Felipe and Aitor Ruibal will miss the second leg if they are cautioned at Old Trafford. There must be a temptation for the manager to make changes, after he labelled the performance “unprofessional” at Liverpool, but also a likelihood that he will act rationally in response to the 7-0 defeat, particularly given the form of the side prior to the chastening experience on Merseyside. Cody Gakpo, Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez all bagged braces alongside a Roberto Firmino effort in the true meaning of a demolition job, bringing an end to the Red Devils’ 11-game unbeaten run while sparking euphoria and exasperation from pundits, fans and players in equal measure.
With a 14-point gap to make up to leaders Arsenal – who have played a game more – some have already eliminated third-placed Man United from the Premier League title race, but their podium spot is safe for the time being as they seek an immediate response in continental action. A second-placed finish to Real Sociedad in the group stage forced Man United to do it the hard way, but a richly-deserved 2-1 second-leg win over Barcelona propelled the Red Devils into the last 16 at the Catalans’ expense, and not since March 2012 have the hosts lost the first leg of a European knockout tie at home. Prior to being destroyed by Liverpool, Man United had scored at least twice in 12 successive games in all competitions – their multiple-goal run at Old Trafford stands at an even better 14 games – and Ten Hag’s side can get straight back into the fans’ good books with a 20th unbeaten match in a row at the Theatre of Dreams here.
With a refreshed XI taking on a Fekir-less Real Betis side – who are not always adept at keeping things tight at the back – the stage is set for a confidence-rocked Man United to continue their Old Trafford excellence and return to winning ways. Pellegrini’s side have developed an affinity for goalscoring and can still be expected to trouble Ten Hag’s backline, but we still have faith in the Red Devils to glean a slender first-leg advantage before next week’s trip to Spain.