LOUIS van Gaal’s Manchester United side were drawn against Danish opposition in yesterdays Europa League draw after crashing out of the UEFA Champions League into Europe’s second-tier competition. Emma Pearce analyses what can be expected from their competition…
Having failed on their European mission to Wolfsburg during his first stint in the competition with Manchester United, van Gaal’s side were omitted from yesterdays Champions League draw, and denied the chance of facing a European giant such as Bayern Munich, Barcelona or PSG.
Instead, the Red Devils found themselves in the draw for the Round of 32 in the Europa League, and as if to emphasise the drop in stature that comes with falling into the competition, United were paired with a side that many won’t have heard of.
Who are they?
Formed in 1999, Midtjylland are a relatively new club from Denmark. They won the Danish SuperLiga title last season and currently sit third in their domestic League. Also known as “the Wolves” their recent form has been anything but inspiring, recording just one win in their last five league games.
The Danish side will host Manchester United at the MCH Arena in Herning, with a capacity of only 12,000 it will be a lot cosier than most United fans are used to, with approximately 600 tickets being allocated to the travelling side. The small town is about a three-hour drive from Copenhagen meaning the Red’s will make a round trip of 1,219 miles in February 2016.
Although the Danish outfit have never met Manchester United before they did play their neighbours Manchester City back in 2008. Midjtylland won at the Etihad stadium.
City won on the return leg to Denmark and only progressed to the first round on a penalty shootout. FC Midtylland also beat Premier League side Southampton on their road to round of 32.
One to watch
Winger Pione Sisto is an exciting player to watch, making his debut only two seasons ago he has gained a lot of attention from plenty of Europe’s super clubs including Barcelona, Porto, Milan and Juventus.
In December 2014 Sisto was voted “Player of the Year” by the Danish Footballer’s Association. He was the catalyst last season as FC Midtjylland won their first Danish League title.
Will United progress?
In truth, it is a tie you would expect United to wrap up nicely and come out on top. However recent form suggests that it might not be that simple.
Van Gaal’s side have a busy period in February, with the Reds expected to play Arsenal in the Premier League just two days after their home tie with Midtjylland.
Midtjylland have had a steady run so far in the competition, playing well in their matches at the MCH Arena. Hefty losses to Napoli however prove that there are some defensive frailties and van Gaal will be hoping his strikers can expose them with ease.
By Emma Pearce