Manchester United head to Spain on Thursday to face Real Betis with one foot already planted in the quarter-final of the Europa League.
Last week’s 4-1 win over Manuel Pellegrini’s men at Old Trafford has Erik ten Hag’s side on the verge of the last eight, with a fine second half showing putting the La Liga outfit to the sword. With the game finely poised at 1-1 at the break, United - on the back of that 7-0 thrashing by Liverpool - showed their class with a powerful display, as Antony, Bruno Fernandes and Wout Weghorst all found the net.
That leaves Betis with an uphill battle to ahead of the meeting at the Benito Villamarin, and while United were far from their best in the goalless weekend draw with the Premier League's bottom side Southampton, Ten Hag’s men were in happy mood in their final training session before flying to Spain on Wednesday afternoon. Here’s a look at five things noticed from Carrington…
Sabitzer part of triple boost
Marcel Sabitzer is back in training and could feature in Seville.
The Austrian international, on loan from Bayern Munich until the summer, has had to make do with being a bit-part player since arriving in England, and has missed United’s last two games due to an unspecified injury.
He was this week named in Austria’s squad for their upcoming internationals, and with Casemiro set to serve a four-match domestic ban, the trip to Spain could offer an opportunity for Sabitzer to get some minutes under his belt, particularly if Ten Hag sees him as the best alternative to deputise for the Brazilian in the coming weeks.
Victor Lindelof, missing with injury of late, was also back in action and so too was Anthony Martial. Could the French forward play a part in the second leg?
The jury remains out on Brazilian winger Antony following his big-money signing from Ajax last summer, but he produced the outstanding moment in last week’s win, scoring United’s second with a sumptuous left-footed strike from distance - breaking Betis’ resistance in the process.
However, he was missing from United’s final session. With Alejandro Garnacho injured, it will be interesting to see if Antony’s absence was merely a precaution and whether he still makes the flight.
How to solve a problem like Casemiro?
As touched upon above, Casemiro’s red card against Southampton at the weekend was his second in the Premier League this season and means he’s got a four-match domestic ban coming, starting in the FA Cup against Fulham on Sunday.
The ex-Real Madrid man trained and will be part of the squad in Spain, but the question is whether Ten Hag starts him - or does he leave him out and give one of his back-ups a start as he looks to the games ahead.
Fred has been his main partner at the base of midfield recently, but with Sabitzer and Scott McTominay both also pushing to play, it’ll be interesting to see what the Dutchman decides. The expectation is that he starts his midfield anchor and deals with his impending absence after this game.
All smiles for Rashford
He’s been in red-hot form since the World Cup and has already beaten his best ever goalscoring season, notching 26 goals in 42 games already this term.
So it’s little wonder why Marcus Rashford looks very much at ease in training, showcasing a beaming smile and teasing teammates during the rondos in the early part of Wednesday’s session.
Keeping him fit and firing is crucial for United as they look for more silverware. With Ten Hag seeking to manage his exposure and keeping him fresh for when his talisman is really needed, could this be a game where Rashford starts from the bench, an ‘in case of emergency’ situation?
Dyche won’t be happy
On a brisk Manchester day, it was little wonder that United’s players were wrapped up against the cold.
Snoods, hats, gloves and tights a plenty were on show as United’s players went about their business.
Everton boss Sean Dyche recently banned hats and snoods at Finch Farm, the Toffees training ground, declaring: “You train how you play.”
It’s not something that’s made it’s way to Ten Hag’s United just yet.