12 Mar Manchester United v Sevilla talking points
Manchester United will bid to become the third English side to reach this year’s Champions League quarter-finals when they face Sevilla at Old Trafford in the second leg of their last-16 encounter.
United, three time winners of this competition, drew 0-0 in the first leg in Spain last month.
Here Press Association Sport details some of the talking points ahead of Tuesday night’s game.
Will the Sevilla stalemate come back to bite Mourinho?
Manchester City and Liverpool both secured big away wins to put their respective ties to bed with 90 minutes still to play, yet United approached a trip to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan with a more safety-first style and secured just a 0-0 draw. That means it is still all to play for at Old Trafford and leaves United open to the possibility of crashing out on away goals. Jose Mourinho must hope his cautious tactics in Spain are not what costs his side across the two legs.
Will Pogba be fit?
United’s record signing Paul Pogba was absent for Saturday’s 2-1 victory over north-west rivals Liverpool due to injury and was not present for the section of training open to the media on Monday morning. However, Mourinho stated Pogba did actually train once journalists had left and left open the possibility that the Frenchman could be fit enough to return.
Should he come back even if he is?
That being said, United certainly did not miss Pogba against Jurgen Klopp’s Reds. A few months ago Pogba was considered to be the player that made Mourinho’s men tick, but in recent weeks his role in the team has been heavily scrutinised. Pogba was not chosen to start in the first leg and it appears unlikely Mourinho would either break up his defensive-midfield axis of Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic, or sacrifice one of his attacking midfielders or forwards now the onus is on his men to attack.
Will Rashford retain his place?
United’s hero at the weekend was homegrown forward Marcus Rashford, who marked his first Premier League start of 2018 with a brace. Rashford has experienced the kind of inconsistency many his age show but the 20-year-old offered a timely reminder of his brilliance against Liverpool to also prove to Mourinho he can be relied upon in the big moments. Alexis Sanchez had been underwhelming on the left anyway so Mourinho may consider utilising the Chilean more centrally again and allowing Rashford, a player surely imbued with confidence, to slot in on the left once more.
Sevilla’s Champions League inexperience
The story of last week’s Champions League ties were of experienced European powerhouses Juventus and Real Madrid respectively edging past Tottenham and Paris St Germain, both comparatively green at these stages of the tournament. While this United side may not have accrued the Champions League nous of the Sir Alex Ferguson sides, they still have players such as Juan Mata and Antonio Valencia, who have played in the competition’s finals. Sevilla have never reached the last eight of the Champions League and United will be hoping their additional experience works in their favour.