Manchester United have failed to win any of their last nine European away games, with their last victory on the road dating back to three years ago.
Thursday’s contest with Zorya Luhansk – already guaranteed to finish bottom of Group A – acts as the perfect opportunity, therefore, for Jose Mourinho‘s men to restore some much needed credibility on the European stage.
And with Man United still in need of a point to guarantee qualification, here are three players that Mourinho must start in Odessa.
The Armenian, since making his second start for the club against Feyenoord last month, has been a truly spell-binding force in midfield, producing moments of sheer class at will. Mkhitaryan’s performance at Goodison Park – a first Premier League start since September 10 – essentially confirmed that the 27-year-old deserves a regular place in the starting XI, and United fans will be desperate to see his run in the first team continue on Thursday.
It was thought that Bailly, recipient of a grim knee ligament injury back in October, would be absent from United’s starting XI until February. However, to everyone’s surprise, the Ivorian returned in time to make the match-day squad for the game against Everton last weekend. And with Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo both in need of a rest after recent exertions, this feels like the perfect time to give Bailly a chance to shine.
Both Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian – with Sunday’s game against Tottenham Hotspur in mind – have not travelled with the first team squad to Ukraine, paving the way for Fosu-Mensah to impress from the start against Zorya. United fans will be keen to see how the youngster, who produced a string of excellent performances at right back last season, performs in such a hostile environment. This feels like his chance to stake a claim for a more regular spot in Mourinho’s Premier League side.