Old Trafford hosts Dutch side Feyenoord for only the second time in its history. On the other occasion, in 1997, United ran out 2-1 winners in the Champions League group stage with goals from Paul Scholes and Denis Irwin from the spot.
The Feyenoord side that day contained, amongst others, Jerzy Dudek, George Boateng and Giovanni van Bronckhorst – who is now incidentally manager. The De club aan de Maas class of 2016 also boasts some names familiar to Premier League fans, such as Eljero Elia formerly of Southampton and ex-Liverpool striker Dirk Kuyt – serving as captain.
Jose Mourinho’s side would love a repeat of that 2-1 victory nearly two decades ago, to go a long way towards progression to the knock out stages of this year’s Europa League, as the Dutch side sit in 2nd ahead of the Red Devils, with one point more after four games.
Despite United fans having larger ambitions of Champions League football, progression and the potential for subsequent success in the Europa League will do wonders for the confidence of the players and alleviate mounting pressure on ‘The Special One’.
Manchester United have so far won two and lost two of their 2016/17 Europa League campaign, winning both of their home games against Zorya Luhansk and Fenerbache, while losing on the road to Fenerbache and their opposition tonight Feyenoord. Thus making qualification for the knock out stages by no means a given. United’s domestic form has been somewhat stop start too, with the Red Devils sitting 6th in the table, nine points off of Chelsea having recorded wins over Manchester City and Champions Leicester, but also suffered defeats at the hands of Chelsea and Watford.
Feyenoord Rotterdam currently sit top of the Eredivise, as well as second in Group A of the Europa League – one position and one point better off than Manchester United. The side from Rotterdam have only lost three times this season (and that includes the Dutch equivalent of the Community Shield) and on each occasion the score has been 1-0, and Feyenoord have been away from home. The ‘Club of the People’ (De club van het volk) lost, somewhat surprisingly, 1-0 to the Go Ahead Eagles in the Eredivise at the start of November, but otherwise have won 10 from 13 in the Dutch top flight. In Europe, a solitary 1-0 loss in Turkey to Fenerbache has been the only real blot on Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s copybook. Having scored just three and conceded two in their last four European matches, expect a low scoring affair.
Predicted line ups
Manchester United predicted starting XI:
Feyenoord predicted starting XI:
Eric Bailly gives Mourinho a boost as he is set to return from his knee injury sooner than expected. However this fixture will likely come too soon for the defender.
Injuries and suspensions
For Feyenoord the most notable absentee is Karim El Ahmadi who has a foot injury. Eric Botteghin is suspended and Terence Kongolo will also miss out.
Feyenoord will no doubt be a tough nut to crack, and are likely to ask questions of Manchester United. However, expect home advantage to come into play and for United to continue their 100% record in the Europa League this year at Old Trafford.
Our prediction: Manchester United 1-0 Feyenoord
Featured image: All rights reserved by Will Morley