The essential info: Roma v United
Manchester United are within touching distance of an eighth major European final ahead of the resumption of our UEFA Europa League semi-final with AS Roma.
Here's all the essential information, ahead of a game that could see Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reach his first final as Manchester United manager...
HOW CAN I FOLLOW THE MATCH?
The match kicks off at 20:00 BST on Thursday and will be broadcast live in the UK via BT Sport. You can also follow the action via ManUtd.com and our Official App, where you’ll be able to check the live in-game data through our Match Centre. MUTV will also be providing build-up, live radio commentary and post-match reaction, and will show full reruns of the 90 minutes from the following day.
Given Sunday's match with Liverpool was postponed, we'll have to wait until Ole's pre-match press conference (Wednesday 5 May) to get an update on how the squad is shaping up for the rematch with Roma. But before the scheduled Liverpool fixture, Solskjaer indicated that only Phil Jones and Anthony Martial – both long-term absentees - were unavailable for selection. Dean Henderson and Daniel James were rested for the first leg against Roma, while Mason Greenwood only appeared for the last 14 minutes (plus stoppage time). With the Liverpool match not taking place, the hope is that the squad should be in rude health as we try and reach the Europa League's Gdansk final.
Roma, meanwhile, were beset with injury problems during the first leg. Paulo Fonseca had to substitute three starters in the opening 37 minutes at Old Trafford, with Jordan Veretout, Leonardo Spinazzola and goalkeeper Pau Lopez all forced into leaving the pitch due to physical issues. None of the trio featured in the Giallorossi's 2-0 loss to Sampdoria at the weekend, with Amadou Diawara and Carles Perez also missing out. But there's better news with defender Gianluca Mancini, who has completed his suspension and will be available to play in Rome.
United have lost just one of the last 22 games in all competitions, and we have a 100 per cent record away from home in the Europa League this season, having beaten Real Sociedad, AC Milan and Granada. All three of those victories have come with a clean sheet, too. Roma, meanwhile, are winless in their last six games, and have scored just seven goals across those matches. They would, of course, need to beat us by four goals or more to overturn their first-leg deficit.
We've met the Giallorossi seven times, with six of those games occurring in little over a year between 2007 and 2008. We've won five of the meetings, with one draw and one defeat. Our record in Italy is much improved too. After losing all six of our visits there between 1958 and 1997, we're undefeated in our last six. Since a 3-0 loss to AC Milan in the 2007 Champions League semi-final, we've enjoyed four wins and two draws when facing Italian sides on their soil.
Former Red Henrikh Mkhitaryan proved dangerous in the first leg, particularly when Roma were able to counter. Alongside Lorenzo Pellegrini and former Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko, the Armenian caused us plenty of problems in the first half. Spinazzola was also a huge outlet for the Italians in the opening half an hour, before he had to leave the field with an injury on 37 minutes. We'll have to wait to see if he is available for the second leg. Their manager, Paulo Fonseca, also revealed post-match that Diawara and Chris Smalling had both been struggling in the second half due to injury, but Roma had already used up their substitution windows. However, former United man Smalling did manage to play in the defeat to Sampdoria a few days later.
Paulo Fonseca is a coach with plenty of European pedigree, counting Porto, Braga and Shakhtar Donetsk among his previous employers. The Portuguese was appointed boss at the Stadio Olimpico in 2019, after a trophy-laden spell in Ukraine, and guided the Romans to a respectable fifth-placed finish in his first campaign, plus the quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia.
“It’s hard to explain how we did that first half and then came out for the second with no aggression, making a lot of mistakes, leaving spaces,” said Fonseca after the first game. “When they scored the third goal, the team didn’t have the mental strength to get back on their feet. It’s difficult to play against a team like Manchester United anyway, let alone when we can’t make any substitutions.”
THE OTHER SEMI-FINAL
Arsenal trail Villarreal 2-1 on the opposite side of the draw, with that tie's eventual winner meeting United or Roma in Gdansk, Poland on 26 May. The Spaniards took a 2-0 lead at El Madrigal, and appeared to be in a position to put the tie to bed after Gunners midfielder Dani Ceballos was dismissed for picking up a second yellow card. But Mikel Arteta's team were given hope by Nicolas Pepe's second-half penalty, and played well at the weekend by beating Newcastle 2-0. Could we see an all-English final? Arsenal and Chelsea met in the final of this very competition only two years ago, while United have faced English opposition in a continental final just once: the 2008 Champions League final, where we overcame Chelsea on penalties in Moscow.