Friday, October 23, 2020

Prediction: LASK vs Manchester United

Veselin Trajkovic in Free Soccer Predictions 11 Mar 2020

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Verdict: Away win

Best odds: 19/20

Bookmaker: William Hill

Manchester United travel to Austria to face LASK at the Linzer Stadion in the first leg of their Europa League round-of-16 encounter on Thursday evening. At the advice of the Austrian government, the hosts have decided for the game to be played behind closed doors due to the measures being implemented amid fears of the potential spread of the Coronavirus.

LASK

Having finished second in the Austrian Bundesliga last season, 12 points behind champions RB Salzburg, LASK started their European journey this term in the third round of the Champions League qualifications. They managed to get past Basel, but they were eliminated in the playoffs by Genk, which meant they had earned a place in the Europa League. They were placed in Group D, which they won ahead of Sporting Lisbon, PSV Eindhoven and Rosenborg before breaking past AZ Alkmaar in the round of 32. They drew the first leg in Holland, before winning the second at home 2-0 through a Marko Raguz brace, despite Philipp Weisinger getting sent off two minutes from time.

LASK are actually doing better this term domestically. They finished top of the table after the preliminary stage of the championship, and they now enter the playoffs from a strong position, full of confidence. Their last five games saw them win four times after a 3-3 draw against Sturm, including an away win against Salzburg.

Team News

Head coach Valerien Ismael won’t be able to count on midfielders Thomas Goiginger and Marvin Potzmann, who are both out with knee injuries, while Wiesinger and fellow defender Petar Filipovic are suspended. Midfiedler Husein Balic’s involvement in this game is questionable at the moment, due to a muscular issue.

Manchester United

The name of Manchester United was one you wouldn’t want to see drawn against you in any competition not too long ago, but it hasn’t been quite like that ever since their legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson, 13-time Premier League and two-time Champions League winner, retired in 2013. Since then, three different men have tried to lead them back to the top and failed. Other clubs in England have begun thriving since. Now they’re led by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, a man who was a big part of the success under Ferguson as a player, and his spell in charge of the team has so far been patchy. It began extremely well, but the team soon fell back into mediocrity.

Still, another dawn seems to be on the horizon. The arrival of Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon has provided a significant amount of creativity in their play, and they now seem capable of achieving a lot, providing it lasts this time. Their current form is very good – they’ve won three of their last five Premier League games, including completing a season double over defending champions Manchester City and beating direct top-four rivals Chelsea. They are now fifth, only three points behind Chelsea, and may yet get to play in the Champions League next season.

As for their Europa League campaign, they cruised through Group L also consisting of AZ, Partizan Belgrade and Astana, before thrashing Genk in the round of 32. They are considered strong favorites to go through again here, but let’s wait and see.

Team News

Solskjaer still cannot call upon midfielder Paul Pogba who has been having ankle problems for a while. Forward Marcus Rashford is also out with a back problem, while winger Daniel James and right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka are doubts.

Conclusion

With all due respect, it’s not easy to imagine LASK progressing from this stage. What was supposed to be their home advantage has been taken away by the game being played behind closed doors, and though they are a good team and on fine form, United simply have more quality while also having some wind under their sails at the moment.

Verdict: Away win

Best odds: 19/20

Bookmaker: William Hill

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on four different football blogs.

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