Man Utd 6-2 AS Roma: Three things we learnt from the first leg of the Europa League Semi-finals

Manchester United continued their dominant and ruthless showing in the Europa League, as they demolished a Roma side, who were forced to make three substitutes in the first half of the game due to unfortunate injuries. With this 6-2 victory at Old Trafford, it leaves the Red Devils with one foot into the Europa League finals and not much to worry about for the second leg in Italy next week.

The hosts got off to the perfect start with a goal in the ninth minute through Bruno Fernandes, who was smartly found by Edinson Cavani before chipping the ball over Pau Lopez. However, the team conceded two cheap goals through individual errors and poor defensive awareness as the Italian side were able to achieve two away goals and most importantly the lead, ten minutes before the break.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men meant business and came out with the right mindset after the half-time break, leading to a crucial equaliser from Cavani three minutes into the second half, who produced a world-class finish. From there onwards, it was all Manchester United as Roma found it too difficult to keep up with them and handle them, with the English team scoring four goals in the last 25 minutes of the match, as the goals came from Cavani again, Fernandes, Paul Pogba and Mason Greenwood.

Here are the three things we learnt from United’s latest Europa League fixture…

One foot into the Europa League finals

Despite failing to get past the semi-finals of three competitions during the 2019-20 season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United are 90 minutes away from finally experiencing their first final under the 48-year-old Norwegian international. It may seem like a long time coming, but the manager and the players have shown the maturity and understanding to comeback from the downfall they had suffered from last season, resulting in a campaign ending with zero silverware.

With one foot in the Europa League final, both the manager and the players will still have a lot to takeaway from the first leg against Roma, as a number of individuals had lost their heads once the opposition took the lead, and the coach is always criticised for his in-game management skills. Though, on this occasion, Solskjaer did not change the line-up after trailing to Roma, as the team managed to turn things around in the second half as they showed their pure brilliance and quality.

The big characters in midfield and attack stepped up

After Edin Dzeko had given the visitors the lead in the 34th minute of the game, nothing was going right for United, who were failing to string a couple of passes together and were not making the clear effort on both sides of the pitch. However, with the half-time break arriving at the perfect time for the side, the huge characters in the team in Bruno Fernandes, Edinson Cavani and Paul Pogba effectively stepped up in the second half, leaving Roma with no chance of defending their 2-1 lead.

With experienced players who have played at the highest level of football for quite some time like the above trio, they are the type of individuals who are able to create a chance or score a goal from half a moment. When a manager has born winners and players who step up when the side need them the most, it leaves Solskjaer with very little to do or to change in order to turn the game around, as individuals such as Cavani, Fernandes and Pogba are able to do this single-handedly.

Man Utd remain favourites to win the Europa League

For sure, Manchester United were seen as the clear favourites to win the Europa League after they were knocked out of the Champions League group stages, though, the side had to take their performance levels and results up a notch in order to prevent themselves from being regarded as bottlers. As the club have not won a trophy since May 2017, which was the Europa League under Jose Mourinho, everyone at the club will want to re-write history by becoming two-time winners.

With the opposition for the final yet to be confirmed between Arsenal and Villarreal, the Red Devils should have more than enough class and individual brilliance to see out either of the sides in the Europa League final. Not only that, but the side also have one of the best form away from home in Europe, as the team have shown their pure class of elite mentality and intelligence to win games. In the end, it would be seen as a huge shock if the Red Devils fail to win the competition and a lot of questions and doubts will be raised on whether the manager/players are good enough for the club.

AC Milan vs. Benevento: Serie A Round 34 – Team news, stats and prediction

Milan suffered a heavy defeat away at Lazio on Monday evening and are now desperately scrambling for points to make the top four. Taking their schedule into consideration, as well as their rivals’, it won’t be an easy fight for the Rossoneri with just five games to go. 

Stefano Pioli isn’t the most popular man right now as the down-fall in 2021 has been horrendous, even for a team with that many injury struggles. Not only are Milan failing to collect the points necessary, but they are also lacking ideas on the pitch and we have seen this recently, failing even with a strong team. Continue reading

Italian Football Predictions – Round 34

Verona-Spezia: the Scaligeri have been defeated in seven of the last eight games, in the last four by Lazio, Sampdoria, Fiorentina, and Inter despite being generally sufficiently plucky. The Aquilotti are coming off their sixth straight loss on the road at the hands of Genoa, so something will have to give between the two negative streaks: 1-1.

Crotone-Inter: the Squali returned to winning ways after six straight Ls in the mortal clash with Parma at the bottom of the table. After two 1-1 draws with Napoli and Spezia, the Nerazzurri squeezed bast Verona and are edging closer and closer to making the Scudetto official, which could happen in this round with a positive combination: 1-4. Continue reading

Roma smashed for 6 goals as Manchester United run riot in the Europa League

The week had begun with Roma fans very unhappy with Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s comments about the club. Solskjaer had said that he hadn’t watched much of Roma and didn’t really know too much about the club in response to his preparation of United’s game against them.

Roma fans were livid and put up banners where the players train which some read ‘give them something to remember us by’. Well that didn’t quite go to plan and Roma who had lost 7-1 at Old Trafford 14 years ago went down 6-2 and are surely out of the Europa League now.

It was a devastating result and it showed the quality that Manchester United can still possess on their day. It is odd in some ways though because this game had shifted back and forth and for a time Roma were leading 2-1 and looking good for it too. Oh how football can be so cruel.

Perhaps the Gods had acted too quick in announcing this would be a forgettable night for Roma once again in Europe. Within a few minutes of the game kicking off one of Roma’s best players this season Jordan Veretout had to go off with an injury. Five minutes later Roma were trailing 1-0 through a Bruno Fernandes goal. It was a great chip that Fernandes produced to put United in charge of the game. At this point the rest looked inevitable, but Roma would surprise first before hitting the canvas.

Just five minutes after the goal the Giallorossi hit back. Paul Pogba handled the ball in the area and they were awarded a penalty. The impressive Lorenzo Pellegrini who is ranked 3rd in the best Roma players in the fantasy football standings converted with no trouble and it was 1-1.

But still the total non luck continued for Roma when they lost a further two players to injury. First it was Pau Lopez and then Leonardo Spinazzola had to leave the field. The good news was that Roma would take the lead. Pellegrini was able to set up Edin Dzeko for an easy goal and Dzeko a former Manchester City player would have been happy with that. The first half ended with Roma in the lead full time would not be so kind.

Within 3 minutes of the restart Edinson Cavani had made it 2-2 though VAR did question the goal it stood. Just past the hour mark Cavani made it 3-2 to United and his 2nd of the night after latching onto a rebound. And then it was 4-2 ten minutes later with a Fernandes penalty. Chris Smalling had made the foul, the former Manchester United player, it all seemed written in the stars and this game was over for Roma, the problem was there was more goals to come.

On the 76th minute it was 5 goals for the home side, Fernandes turning provider this time and the ball found Paul Pogba’s head for sheer joy for the Red Devils. Mason Greenwood just rubbed salt into the wounds to make it 6-2 for the night and put, let’s face it, two feet into the final for Manchester United.

Roma need to win 4-0 to advance to the final, they will be at home of course for the 2nd leg but this seems quite a stretch to believe that they have any chance of making it. It has been a nightmare of a season for Roma simply because it had started so well, but this match proved that the club are in dire straits and that coach Paolo Fonseca will surely be replaced in the summer.

After going their last 3 games without a win Roma are in 7th place in Serie A which means that they would have to go through a qualifying round just to participate in next seasons Europa League. They could also finish 8th and have no European football next season, which is a real possibility. At the weekend the Giallorossi will face Sampdoria.

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Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 34

Atalanta: a clean bill of healthy for Gian Piero Gasperini.

Benevento: Marco Sau picked up a thigh injury in the past game and will likely miss some time. Gianluca Caprari, Daam Foulon, and Andres Tello skipped the last match due to undisclosed ailments, Gaetano Letizia with muscle fatigue: Caprari and Tello are available, the others are not. Alessandro Tuia is nursing a calf problem, Gabriele Moncini ankle soreness.

Returning: Caprari, Tello; Missing: Sau, Tuia, Moncini, Letizia, Foulon.  Continue reading

Barcelona fluff their lines in La Liga

Well, who would’ve thought it?

A team, in Granada, that on the previous 24 occasions they’d visited the Camp Nou they’d lost, coming away with a victory in a game that Barcelona needed to win to put them on top of the La Liga table for the first time in the 2020/21 campaign.

The Andalusians executed their game plan to the letter and got exactly what they deserved. Continue reading

Serie A Probable Lineups – Round 34


Verona (3-4-2-1): Silvestri; Dawidowicz, Magnani, Dimarco; Faraoni, Tameze, Ilic, Lazovic; Zaccagni, Barak; Lasagna.

Potential lineup changes: Gunter for Dawidowicz, Sturaro for Tameze, Kalinic for Lasagna.

Likely bench options: Salcedo, Kalinic, Bessa.

Probable: Lovato (thigh soreness).

Ruled out: Veloso (neck surgery), Vieira (thigh strain), Benassi (calf strain).

Suspended: Ceccherini.

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Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 34 – Late Matches


Bologna: Atalanta pummeled them despite a decent start, where Andreas Skov Olsen (2 goals, 2 assists) in particular challenged the opposing goalkeeper with some strikes from distance. Performance-wise, he is arguably outplaying his competitor Riccardo Orsolini (5/3), who, however, has more of a penchant for making the stat-sheet. Musa Barrow had hit the net in two in a row before the rout, assisted by Roberto Soriano (9/5) versus Torino, while Matthias Svanberg assembled a twofer in the Spezia game. They will lean hard on him in the midfield in this one since Nicolas Dominguez is out for the season and Jerdy Schouten is suspended. Rodrigo Palacio has dished two assists in the last five contests.

Suggested picks: Barrow, Soriano, Skov Olsen/Orsolini.

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Inter race 11 points clear and can win Serie A title this weekend!

The 11 year wait for Inter is almost over as they are so close now to winning the Serie A title after a stagnant decade. Antonio Conte’s team have been far the best side in the league and with 79 points they are 11 points in front of Atalanta who themselves have had a fantastic campaign.

One of the stories emerging out of this Serie A season is that Milan or even Juventus could miss out on the Champions League next season. Milan’s poor form has seen them slip to 5th and Juventus are now in 4th place. Though 3rd placed Napoli are on the same points (66) as both Juventus and Milan so it is certainly going to be a close call and should go down to the wire.

For Inter it has been a nervous month of April with each game finishing with just one goal for Conte’s team. Last weekend Inter recorded their 24th win of the season with a very narrow 1-0 victory at home over 10th placed Verona. Verona came into the game having having lost their last 3 in a row and of course Inter were the huge odds on favourites being at home.

However as it transpired this game looked to be finishing in a 0-0 stalemate before Matteo Darmian settled scores with just 14 minutes remaining of the match to get all three points for Inter in a weekend in which Juventus drew and Milan lost.

Verona made life difficult for Inter and that’s what can happen when you have nothing to play for. Verona will  be safe this season but also won’t be able to qualify for European football for next season and they actually had more goal attempts than Inter with 12 in total. Although the difference in technical quality was still telling given that Verona managed just 1 shot on target compared to Inter’s four.

Achraf Hakimi who has been so consistent this season assisted in Darmian’s goal and the player finished well to send the team into fits of joy. True the league isn’t over yet, but you take a look at the expressions of the players and coach and you knew that they knew that it was.

Inter could win the title this weekend when they play Crotone away from home. Although if they win they would still need to wait for Sunday on May 2nd to see how Atalanta perform when they play Sassuolo away from home.

Such is the excitement though that Inter owner Steven Zhang has flown in from China to witness the title celebrations. Surely if it is not this weekend it will be the next?

The Super League fallout seems to have gone quiet and Inter were one of the 12 teams who signed up to the doomed competition. Even though respective FA’s and UEFA said that teams would be punished this hasn’t been the case yet and maybe the associations will now wait until the end of the season. One of the punishments could see Inter banned from Europe for one season which would be unfortunate for them, instead they will be hoping for just a fine.

Stay tuned next weekend as we could be celebrating an historic league title for Inter.

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Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 34 – Early Games


Verona: they were not particularly dangerous against Inter, even though Federico Dimarco, Darko Lazovic, and Antonin Barak had some flashes in the final third. Their offense has stalled in the past month, producing just two goals in the last four games, a free kick by Lazovic and a header by Eddie Salcedo, who, however, is not a regular. Kevin Lasagna is not an elite choice given that he has scored twice in the last nine appearances, but he is their fulcrum, and he is well-suited for this match-up. Mattia Zaccagni’s slide continues, and Daniel Bessa is gnawing at his playing time. Lazovic (3 goals, 4 assists) has been their most consistent guy lately, while Barak has been quieter, and Dimarco has not taken home bonuses in some time despite his impressive volume. Marco Davide Faraoni (2/7) is more of a secondary option, but he is no stranger to the stat-sheet.

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