Thursday 19 September: 8pm KO
Live on BT Sport
It’s not what Manchester United want but this Thursday sees Manchester United begin their 2019/20 Europa League campaign. They’d much rather be in the Champions League of course but failure to finish in the top four of the Premier League condemned them to another stint of Thursday night football. They begin Group L with a home game against FC Astana who haven’t got the best of records on their European travels.
The Europa League has many critics but at the end of the season, Manchester United could become its largest supporter. They will if in May they win the Europa League, while being placed outside the top four in the Premier League. That would be enough to see them back in the Champions League next season. You can get odds of 5/1 (6.0) at William Hill on them winning the 2019/20 Europa League.
One problem that fans have when following their side in the Europa League is working out just who it is you’re playing. Arsenal supporters had to quickly go onto Wikipedia last season to find out just where Vorskla Poltava was. United fans probably did the same when drawn against FC Astana but they’ll soon be off to Kazakhstan.
United have made a steady start to the new season but are already seven points behind leaders Liverpool. The weekend saw them beat Leicester City at home. It was another game in which a penalty was awarded to United, that’s three home games in a row. This time they actually managed to convert it and there are odds of 5/2 (3.5) at Paddy Power on United scoring from the penalty spot.
United have shown glimpses that they could be back in the top four at the end of this season. It’s 13/8 (2.61) that they earn a Champions League place via their league position this season. Till then, they have to try to get in through another way and lift the Europa League for the second time.
FC Astana can be backed at odds of 25/1 (26.0) at Bet365 on them winning this group. They began this season in the Champions League but lost to CFR Cluj, who also went on to beat Celtic. That defeat saw them transferred into the Europa League and they made their way through three qualifying rounds to reach these group stages.
That included a goalless draw at FC Santa Coloma who play in Andorra. Astana have struggled on the road this season in European competition. They have already lost to Cluj and BATE but did win in Valletta. That win in Malta is their only away victory in their last ten games in European competition. Only three of their last nine away games in all competitions have been won. You can go to Betfair and receive odds of 15/1 (16.0) on an Astana victory at Old Trafford.
This is the first meeting between Manchester United and FC Astana. The visitors have only made two visits to these shores in European competition. Both were against Celtic losing 5-0 and 2-1. It’s 8/15 (1.52) at Coral that this match at Old Trafford sees over 2.5 goals scored.
Manchester United are expected to make several team changes for this Europa League tie. That’s understandable with an away game at West Ham United on Sunday. They have several players out injured at present with Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and Luke Shaw all absent at the weekend. That means there could be places for goalkeeper Sergio Romero, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo getting a game.
It will be an unfamiliar looking side that Manchester United field in this game. However, they have the depth in their squad to justify the skimpy 2/9 (1.22) odds available at Betfred on them beating Astana. For some better value, a bet on United to win and be leading at both half and full time is 4/6 (1.66) at BetVictor.