Sevilla vs Manchester United – Devil’s to secure away goal at 10/1
Both teams had sterling starts to their domestic seasons but are struggling to find their feet form-wise now. While Sevilla have been hovering around the 5th and 6th spots on the La Liga table down from 2nd in September 2017, Manchester United from one of their best starts ever have currently settled in the next best place to overwhelming leaders Manchester City.
After a profusion of 5 defeats and 2 draws from their last 9 games since December, Sevilla should consider themselves lucky to be in the Top 8 of the La Liga. A most humiliating 1-5 battering at the hands of Eibar as recently as February 3 has punctured their confidence going into a major European outing on the 21st of this month. The Sevillistas host Manchester United in a critical first leg Round of 16 tie at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
Wissam Ben Yedder, the architect of Los Rojiblancos's entry into the Round of sixteen, whose six goals in the Group stages that included a couple in their stupendous fightback against Liverpool after being 0-3 down, is well below his best currently. But along with the likes of Luis Muriel and Pablo Sarabia, Yedder could pose a real threat to the United goal.
The United have showed considerable weakness to counterattacks as evinced in their weekend 0-1 loss to Newcastle and 0-2 to Tottenham Hotspur before that. This could be something that coach Vincenzo Montella can capitalize on.
Jose Mourinho on the other hand, would look to attack in search of away goals. He has at his disposal the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Arsenal-import Alexis Sanchez, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial who have the wherewithal to do just that. Paul Pogba cannot be relied upon to deliver goods in the mid-field space given his lackadaisical form of late. It would be surprising to find him in the starting XI for the Sevilla clash. Even the normally consistent Nemanja Matic isn't functioning at his best, while Phil Jones and Chris Smalling have been disastrous at the back. The combination of all these factors don't bode well for the Red Devils going into February 21st's game.
But their stupendous show in the Group stages of the Champions League could be a source of inspiration for the Red Devils going ahead.
United racked up 15 points from their 6 games, winning 5 of them. Compare this to Sevilla who could muster just 9 points from as many games and register only 2 wins.
Jose Mourinho’s men probably would need only one away goal at Sevilla to jockey themselves into a strong position, for they would feel confident in making up for any losing difference in the 2nd leg at Old Trafford.
Bookmakers are giving the Manchester United a slight edge at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan next week. But it could be a score line of 2-1 or 1-2 either ways.