Manchester United hosted Sevilla at Old Trafford for the first leg of the Europa League quarter-final clash.
Erik ten Hag has repeatedly stated that United are keen to add another feather to their cap after winning the Carabao Cup earlier this season and the Europa League is deemed to be an achievable objective.
The United boss named a strong starting XI. David de Gea started in goal with a defensive quartet of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez and Tyrell Malacia.
Casemiro was thrown back into his first competitive action in close to a month due to suspension. Marcel Sabitzer and Bruno Fernandes completed United’s midfield trio.
Anthony Martial led the line with Jadon Sancho and Antony flanking him on either side of attack. Here are three things we learned from Manchester United’s 2-2 draw against Sevilla.
Sabitzer making a strong claim for permanent United stay
In the first half, United were dominant and went into the break two goals up courtesy of Sabitzer.
The Austrian opened the scoring in the 14th minute when he received the ball from Fernandes while inside Sevilla’s box. Sabitzer turned before firing the ball into the back of the net to give his side the lead.
Seven minutes later, Martial found the Bayern Munich loanee with a superb pass. Sabitzer fired the ball beyond the reach of Yassine Bounou who simply had no chance to keep it out.
Sabitzer constantly made late runs into the box and two of his ventures significantly paid off. In the middle of the park, he struck a formidable partnership with Casemiro and Fernandes.
Recently, Sabitzer gave an interview to BILD where he strongly hinted that his wish is to remain at Old Trafford beyond the end of his loan spell.
The 29-year-old declared his love for the Red Devils and the Premier League. He said, “I can say that I found my place here. Now I know the Premier League and can say there’s nothing better, more intense and tougher. Every game is a fight. It’s the best league in the world. When you play once here you know it’s incomparable.”
“Of course, my thoughts are on United, especially with the trust I get from Erik ten Hag – it’s very positive. But I’m not the only one who decides.”
Going by the evidence of his showing against Sevilla that was capped by a brace, Sabitzer is making a strong case for United to permanently sign him.
The next few games are obviously important to which direction Sabiter’s immediate future takes but at the moment, most United supporters would not be opposed to retaining his services.
Martial significantly improves the team and makes a massive difference
Alongside Sabitzer, Martial was United’s other outstanding performer. During the time he was on the pitch, Martial’s link-up play, technical ability and creative prowess were on full display.
The Frenchman combined well with his teammates. He constantly dropped deep and brought others into play.
Martial did not have ample clear-cut opportunities to get his name on the score sheet but gave a remarkable account of himself nevertheless.
Ten Hag himself highlighted the striker’s importance to the team recently. The United boss told journalists about Martial, “When he’s in the team, we play our best football and we have our best results as a team.”
“I defend him because I point to the stats and see how he contributes.”
🚨🎙️| Erik ten Hag on Anthony Martial: "When he's in the team, we play our best football and we have our best results as a team. I defend him because I point to the stats and see how he contributes." pic.twitter.com/UUz9gFg8L5
— centredevils. (@centredevils) April 12, 2023
With Rashford likely to be sidelined for a number of matches, Martial will be required to step up and become a source of goals. Hopefully, he remains fit and produces a strong end to the season.
Huge Martinez and Varane blows for Ten Hag and the team
United fans will be eagerly waiting to learn the full extent of Martinez’s injury. It did not look good as the player was carried off the pitch by his Argentina teammates, Gonzalo Montiel and Marcos Acuna.
Martinez looked in pain and was unable to walk. While on the sidelines, a stretcher was brought for the World Cup winner who was tearful.
Another player who fans will be worried about is Varane. Varane, who spent the dying minutes of the first half on the floor, did not come out for the second period of the game.
Varane was replaced by Harry Maguire who played the entire second half.