Manchester United v LASK Linz: Second string to have fun

Manchester United are sitting pretty after a 5-0 first-leg win against LASK Linz, and Kevin Hatchard doesn't think they'll ease off at Old Trafford, even if they rest key players.

Manchester United v LASK Linz
Wednesday 05 August, 20:00
Live on BT Sport

With primary goal achieved, United can chase the silverware

It was a winding and sometimes painful road, but with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the wheel, Manchester United hit top gear in the Premier League in the nick of time. A 2-0 win at Leicester City on the final day of the league campaign secured a coveted Champions League spot, and the Red Devils can now fully focus on winning a Europa League tournament in which they have been installed as firm favourites at 3.15.

United's group-stage exploits wouldn't have had the big guns in this competition quaking in their boots (they lost at Astana and drew at AZ) but they have been outstanding in the knockout phase. They dismantled a Club Brugge side that have drawn at the Bernabeu against Real Madrid this season, and then they smacked LASK Linz 5-0 in Austria.

In general, United's form is very good. Since losing at Burnley in late January, they have been beaten in just one of their 22 matches in all competitions. That was a 3-1 defeat against Chelsea in the FA Cup, a rare return to some of the error-strewn performances of last year.

After a punishing race for the top four and an FA Cup run that saw them reach the last four, United and Solskjaer are likely to delve into the depths of their squad here. Players like Diogo Dalot, Daniel James, Juan Mata and Odion Ighalo could all be given starting spots.

LASK have gone from heroes to zeroes

It's amazing how quickly fortunes can change, especially in the fast-moving world of football. Just a few short months ago, LASK Linz seemed poised to pose a genuine threat to the hegemony of Red Bull Salzburg in Austria. They had finished second last season, and were well-placed in this season's title race before things fell apart.

Firstly, LASK produced a naïve display as they were shredded 5-0 at home by Manchester United, but then they showed stunning naivete off the field. With only training sessions involving small groups of players allowed after the COVID-19 outbreak, LASK were found guilty of ignoring those restrictions and holding sessions involving the whole team. Coach Valerien Ismael was forced to apologise, and he has since lost his job after a poor run of results. LASK lost their final three games of the Austrian Bundesliga season, and have just lost a friendly to Slovakian side Senica. Ismael's replacement Dominik Thalhammer will be making his competitive debut as LASK coach at Old Trafford.

Klauss and Samuel Tetteh have left the club after their loans expired, so that's the source of 31 goals in all competitions this term that has vanished. There is at least some good news in defence, as centre-backs Petar Filipovic and Philipp Wiesinger are back after suspension.

United to show no mercy

LASK are off-form and short of recent match practice, and even a second-string Manchester United should have no problems here. You can back United -1.5 and -2.0 on the Asian Handicap at 1.88, which means you get a half-win if they win by two goals, and a full win if they secure a bigger margin of victory.

Alternatively, you can use the Sportsbook's Same Game Multi to back United to lead at half-time and to score at least two goals in the game at 1.82.

Ighalo to make the most of rare chance

Odion Ighalo hasn't started a single Premier League game since arriving at Old Trafford, but he has scored twice in three UEL appearances. It seems like that he'll start this game, and after scoring against Club Brugge in the previous round and LASK in the first leg of this tie, I'll back him to score here at 10/11 on the Sportsbook, but keep an eye on the team news and make sure he's starting.


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