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Man Utd meet Midtjylland, Spurs face Viola, Reds tackle Augsburg in Europa League

Lee Gormley | February 17, 2016

The three Premier League participants of the Europa League kick-off their knockout stage campaign with first leg ties this Thursday night, as Manchester United make the trip to Denmark for their last 32 clash with Midtjylland. Meanwhile, Tottenham tackle Serie A giants Fiorentina and Liverpool contest Bundesliga outfit Augsburg.

Midtjylland v Manchester United

  • Europa League last 32, first leg
  • Thursday, February 18th
  • Kick-off: 18:00 GMT
  • MCH Arena, Herning
  • Live on BT Sport 2

Red Devils seek strong start in Europe

After a hapless exit from the Champions League, Louis van Gaal’s Man Utd must overcome their disappointment to avoid an upset in their last 32 first leg encounter with Midtjylland at the MCH Arena in Denmark.

Belgium Soccer Europa League

The Red Devils have never met their Danish opponents competitively before, but their Dutch boss has opted to bring a host of youngsters in his 18-man squad, which is without in-form skipper Wayne Rooney after he was ruled out for two months with knee ligament damage.

Van Gaal’s visitors are 8/5 with Coral to earn an away victory to nil, while Midtjylland are 9/2 to reign supreme in front of their home support and really pile pressure on their travelling Premier League rivals.

Youthful Red Devils squad for trip

Rooney is joined by Italian full back Matteo Darmian as high-profile absentees, with the latter having dislocated his shoulder in the recent defeat to Sunderland, while debutant in that game Donald Love is included again.

Sunderland v Manchester United - Barclays Premier League - Stadium of Light

As well as Love, fellow youngsters Regan Poole, Joe Riley and James Weir make the trip and could earn some Danish delight by potentially making their senior debuts in a game which will witness fans protest ticket prices, similar to what Liverpool supporters did earlier this term.

With captain Rooney being left out of the clash, French forward Anthony Martial is set to lead the line and is 5/1 to open proceedings, while Netherlands winger Memphis Depay is 2/1 to net anytime and end his poor run of form.

Fellaini rallies Red Devils troops

Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini could play a big part for Van Gaal’s side in their Midtjylland meeting, and he has rallied his teammates to perform at their best to avoid any further upset.

“They will be very aggressive as they want to win and show that they are a good team, but we are strong too and have great players,” he stated.

Manchester United v Sheffield United - Emirates FA Cup - Third Round - Old Trafford

“We have the capacity to win and we want to win the game, even though it will be difficult. We have to be motivated because we know they will be.

“Make no mistake, we’ll be going into Thursday’s game aiming to win, as we want to do well in the competition.”

Man Utd have never won the Europa League, which could be motivation to do so this term, with Midtjylland’s main threat to that possible aim being forwards Martin Pusic, who is 2/1 to strike anytime, and Paul Onuachu.

Fiorentina v Tottenham

  • Europa League last 32, first leg
  • Thursday, February 18th
  • Kick-off: 18:00 GMT
  • Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence
  • Live on BT Sport Europe

Spurs face tough trip to Florence

Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham are flying high in the Premier League and the Argentine boss has previously hinted at regarding domestic duties more important, though his side will need to prepared for a tough test against Fiorentina.

Italy Soccer Serie A

Spurs have become surprise title challengers this campaign and come into this European encounter on the back of solid 2-1 victory over rivals Manchester City, making them 6/1 to topple the Viola and both teams to score in Florence (£20 max stake).

Although, Paulo Sousa’s hosts are unbeaten in their previous five Serie A games and are 14/5 to triumph without conceding in Italy, having also made a late assault atop their domestic standings, currently occupying third position behind leaders Juventus and Napoli.

Main men Kane and Alli to star again?

Both England internationals Harry Kane and Dele Alli have been massively influential for the Londoners this term, and are 6/5 and 15/8 to get on the scoresheet anytime, while talented playmaker Heung-Min Son is 7/4 to dispatch a goal of his own.

Britain Soccer Premier League

For the hosts, frontman Nikola Kalinic is a threat at 6/1 to score first, while Josip Ilicic (7/4 anytime) and Babacar Khouma will also be attacking dangers.

Premier League fans will also recognise former West Ham United forward Mauro Zarate, who is 2/1 to net this time out, having recently opened his Viola account with a 90th-minute Serie A winner over Carpi.

Augsburg v Liverpool

  • Europa League last 32, first leg
  • Thursday, February 18th
  • Kick-off: 20:05 GMT
  • WWK ARENA, Augsburg
  • Live on BT Sport Europe

Klopp faces familiar German opposition

Having switched to Liverpool from Borussia Dortmund last summer, Jurgen Klopp will face a familiar Bundesliga side in Augsburg for his Reds’ last 32 first leg match-up, a team he lost to in his final season in Germany.

Stoke City v Liverpool - Capital One Cup - Semi Final - First Leg - Britannia Stadium

The German hosts are 13/5 to stun the Merseysiders in Thursday’s later European kick-off, while the visiting Reds are 7/2 to prevail with both teams getting on the scoresheet.

Klopp previously guided the Black and Yellows to a Champions League final and will see this season’s Europa League as a great opportunity to secure immediate silverware at Anfield in his maiden campaign.

Chance to shine for faltering forwards

Christian Benteke has endured an underwhelming run of form in recent weeks, but this outing is a chance for him to get back on track, with the Belgian frontman 9/2 to open proceedings in Germany.

Britain Soccer FA Cup

Daniel Sturridge is 5/1 to bag a brace or more in his latest appearance, while Brazilian attackers Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho are 6/5 and 7/4 to strike anytime.

Augsburg possess plenty of forward threats of their own, with Raul Bobadilla 7/4 to dispatch past the Reds, with attacking teammate Alexander Esswein 11/1 to net last.

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