Manchester United vs Feyenoord
Date: Thursday, September 15, 2016
Time: 18:00 BST
Venue: De Kuip
In what seems to be the last parting gift from former boss Louis van Gaal, United get their Europa League campaign under way this week, with a trip to the Netherlands as they take on Feyenoord in their first group match of this year’s tournament.
After the disappointing loss to their neighbours on Saturday, Jose Mourinho is undoubtedly going to refresh his line-up to take on the Dutch side.
However, it will be interesting to see which personnel Mourinho chooses, as United’s hectic schedule begins this week.
Their next three games are all away to sides in three different competitions: Feyenoord in the Europa League, Watford in the Premier League and Northampton in the EFL Cup, all in the next week.
This is where Mourinho will show his hand as to how important he sees United’s European adventure in comparison to domestic dominance.
United have massively underachieved in the Europa League so far, with their loss to Athletic Bilbao in the quarter-finals four years ago their ‘best’ run so far in the competition.
Obviously context is needed as United are so often in the Champions League, but with the winner of the Europa League now qualifying automatically for Europe’s elite competition, it’s time for the Red Devils to make a statement and take this tournament by storm.
It’s also worth noting, United already have some serious competition in the Europa League, with clubs such as Inter Milan, Roma, Schalke, Fiorentina and Villarreal all participating in the group stage, and that’s without the Champions League drop-outs where some heavy hitters will no doubt fall into the tournament.
Before that of course, United have to qualify out of the group and Feyenoord won’t be an easy first game. After last season’s lethargic performances against PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League, which ended in a loss and a draw, United will know not to underestimate the league leaders of the Eredivisie.
The big news is that Wayne Rooney, Luke Shaw and Antonio Valencia haven’t travelled to Rotterdam to take on Feyenoord. Marcos Rojo, Ashley Young and Timothy Fosu-Mensah all made the 20-man travelling squad.
Phil Jones didn’t make the squad as he’s picked up a knee ligament injury, which could see him out for a month.
Mourinho also mentioned after the derby loss that youngster Marcus Rashford is set to make his first start of the season.
Feyenoord defender Miquel Nelom could return from injury, with familiar foe and former Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt set to start against the Red Devils.
Who to look out for:
Dirk Kuyt will be familiar to most United fans, the former Liverpool striker scored a hat-trick against the Red Devils in 2011, and even though the Dutchman is now 36, he’s began the season with three goals and an assist.
Another player to look out for is Tonny Vilhena. The 21-year-old midfielder made his debut for the club during the 2011/12 season at just 16. He’s made over 100 appearances for Feyenoord and undoubtedly has the vision to trouble United.
Man Utd: De Gea, Darmian, Smalling, Bailly, Rojo; Herrera, Carrick, Pogba; Martial, Rashford, Ibrahimovic.
Feyenoord: Jones, Karsdorp, Botteghin, van der Heijden, Woudenberg; El Ahmadi, Kuyt, Vilhena; Berghuis, Jorgensen, Toornstra.
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