With fresh legs after the Premier League postponed all weekend fixtures, Manchester United take a trip to the Stadionul Zimbru to take on perennial Moldovan champions Sheriff Tiraspol in the Europa League.
After defeats in his opening two Premier League matches at the helm, new manager Erik ten Hag has steered the Red Devils to four successive league victories.
It’s worth noting that United overcame the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool during that four-game sequence en route to whittling down the gap on the leading Premier League teams.
Despite turning their domestic fortunes around, Man Utd experienced a faltering start to their Europa League Group E campaign as Real Sociedad toppled them at Old Trafford on matchday one.
Brais Mendez scored from the spot to help Imanol Alguacil’s side beat the odds and put pressure on ten Hag and his men ahead of their trip to Moldova.
Aware that winning their second Europa League title offers an alternative route into the Champions League, Man Utd won’t be out to make friends with last season’s Champions League surprise package.
Sheriff’s overwhelming 3-0 win away to Omonia in their Europa League Group E curtain-raiser proved last season’s historic 2-1 Champions League victory at Real Madrid was no fluke.
Yet there’s a feeling that Man Utd will present Stjepan Tomas’ side with a different type of challenge.
Man Utd’s visit to the Stadionul Zimbru may stir unpleasant memories in the home camp, as Sheriff have lost both previous European matches against Premier League clubs via an aggregate score of 4-1.
On the bright side, the Yellow-Blacks have strung together five unbeaten home games in the Europa League proper (W3, D2), winning the last two such fixtures without conceding.
Flying out of the traps could prove crucial to Sheriff’s bid to stage another European upset, considering they’ve won their last three competitive outings ‘to nil.’
Pre-match favourites Man Utd will be out to prove the day-one defeat to Sociedad was just a one-off and maintain their outrageous scoring spree on their European travels.
Indeed, the Red Devils have found the back of the net in their last 15 away matches in major European competitions, netting 28 goals in total since drawing a blank at AZ Alkmaar in October 2019.
Adding to the visitors’ confidence, ten Hag has only lost two of his 20 away games in continental action as a manager (W12, D6), suggesting he is the man for the big occasion.
Sheriff Tiraspol vs Manchester United Potential Line-ups
Sheriff Tiraspol (4-3-3): Maksym Koval; Armel Zohouri, Gaby Kiki, Stjepan Radeljic, Patrick Kpozo; Cedric Badolo, Moussa Kyabou, Mouhamed Diop; Abou Ouattara, Iyayi Atiemwen, Rasheed Akanbi.
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): David de Gea; Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Diogo Dalot; Casemiro, Fred; Anthony Elanga, Chirstian Eriksen, Jadon Sancho; Cristiano Ronaldo.