Louis van Gaal’s injury-hit Manchester United will seek to banish memories of their embarrassing first-leg defeat when Midtjylland visit Old Trafford in the Europa League’s last 32 this week.
Van Gaal’s side threw away a one-goal lead in Denmark last week as the Dutchman’s tenure plumbed new depths before securing a much-needed FA Cup victory at League One Shrewsbury Town on Monday.
The United boss took plenty of positives from the convincing 3-0 win but saw Will Keane and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson pick up knocks while goalscorer Jesse Lingard finished the match with discomfort.
Goalkeeper David de Gea could return after picking up a knock in the warm-up prior to the first leg and Van Gaal hopes his patched-up squad can keep their season alive.
Speaking after the win at Shrewsbury, Van Gaal said: “I have congratulated my players, I was very pleased but now we have to beat Midtjylland.
“It is also possible to beat Midtjylland but it is not easy because they are very organised and we saw that in the away game.
“Everything is possible and we are still in three competitions. It is a big game because it is a chance to qualify for the Champions League next year, but we have to win a lot of matches of course.
“It is easily spoken but done is different. Then I think in March a lot of players will be back so then we have a full selection and with that we were first in the Premier League [earlier this season].”
Superliga side Midtjylland have happy memories of Manchester, having beaten United’s rivals Manchester City 1-0 in the first leg of their UEFA Cup qualifier in 2008 before losing the tie on penalties.
Last week’s first leg was their only competitive match since completing the group stage in mid-December and coach Jess Thorup expects a much tougher test at Old Trafford this week.
“We haven’t achieved anything,” he told BBC Radio 5 live. “It was only the first game and although we got a victory we know it will be a slightly different game at Old Trafford.
“We know we will be under a certain pressure from the fans and it will be the first time a lot of our players have played in a big stadium like Old Trafford.
“[The favourites] must still be Manchester United, they are a big team and they have an away goal. They are still a big favourite but we have shown we can play against a great team like that.
“This is the theatre of dreams and we have all the dreams. We’ll keep on hoping and we’ll do our best.”
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