This clash with Sevilla can be very different
It has only been two years and five months since Manchester United's last meeting with Sevilla but so much has changed on and off the pitch.
It was hugely disappointing when the Reds succumbed to the Spanish side 2-1 on the night, and on aggregate, with the outcome never in doubt after Wissam Ben Yedder came off the bench to score two priceless away goals. United managed only three shots on target all game, one of which was Romelu Lukaku's consolation effort.
This followed a goalless draw at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium when David De Gea was Man of the Match and only one shot on target was mustered by the visitors.
It is important to note that it is not unusual for matches in the Champions League knock-out stages to be tight but it felt like a pretty meek way to exit the competition. Sevilla have forged a formidable reputation in Europe but the home fans were clearly upset by feeling let down on a big occasion under the lights at the Theatre of Dreams.
A look at United's side that night shows how time has moved on, and quickly. More of the starting XI in the second leg play for Inter Milan, possible opponents if we win Sunday's semi-final, than started our extra-time triumph over FC Copenhagen.
The line-up that evening was: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Smalling, Young; Matic, Fellaini, Lingard; Alexis, Lukaku, Rashford. Subs: Pogba, Martial, Mata.
Hence, only Eric Bailly and Marcus Rashford were in Monday's XI. David De Gea, Nemanja Matic and Jesse Lingard were on the bench (the latter two came on) but, in addition to the trio at Inter (Ashley Young, Alexis Sanchez and Lukaku), Antonio Valencia and Marouane Fellaini have also left the club. Chris Smalling spent last term on loan at Roma and is not in our Europa League squad.
The three substitutes used in the 2-1 loss to Sevilla were Paul Pogba, who was introduced on the hour-mark, and Anthony Martial and Juan Mata, who played for the last 13 minutes. In the first leg, the three subs used were Rashford, Pogba and Martial but all are likely to be key to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's plans at Stadion Koln after showing their undoubted talent.
Mata made a positive impression against Copenhagen and will also be in the manager's thoughts for a real test against a club that has lifted this trophy five times since 2005/06.
As for Julien Lopetegui's men, their team will be very different to the XI that emerged victorious at Old Trafford in 2018. Of those on duty against Wolves on Tuesday, only outstanding playmaker Ever Banega remains from their famous night in Manchester.
Sergio Escudero and Franco Vazquez, who came on, were on the bench for the 1-0 win over Nuno Espirito Santo's side and both started the last time the Andalucians played United.
So we all know nothing can really be read into what happened the last time we took on Sevilla. However, perhaps we can venture that the Reds will be determined to set the record straight, with Solskjaer also explaining he wants to avenge a 3-1 aggregate loss to them in 2016, when he was manager of Molde.
The opinions in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Manchester United Football Club.
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