Match Previews

Match Preview: Partizan Belgrade vs United

ESPN

After a Premier League point at the weekend, United are now looking to extended their lead at the top of Group L tonight.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær will face a manager the same age as him, 46, as Savo Milošević aims to send shockwaves across the continent’s secondary tournament.

A hostile environment is expected in Serbia, as the Europa League’s third matchday looms.

Kick-off: 17:55 [BST]

Venue:
Stadion FK Partizan

Referee: Xavier Estrada Fernández

Return fixture: Thursday 7th November, Old Trafford

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THE STEAMROLLER

Super Liga Position: 5th

Recent form: LLWWW

Top scorer: Umar Sadiq [5]

Previous result: Mladost Lucani 1-0 Partizan

Opposition lowdown

After beating Solskjær’s beloved Molde in the final qualifying round, Partizan have started solidly in Group L; drawing with Alkmaar before taking three points from Astana in Kazakhstan.

Beating Belgrade rivals Red Star in the Serbian Cup final, Milošević secured himself the job following two previous managers failing to change their fortunes last season.

However off the pitch ahead of the clash, the Yugoslavian-born boss called on his supporters not to shame their club with any racism and is hoping for a decent and respectful atmosphere.

“I will say to our fans: a big club, a giant club, is coming to visit us,” said the former Aston Villa striker.

“And we should be honoured to play against Manchester United for the first time since 1966′

“We have to be proud to host the players, coaches, leaders, and fans of such a great club.”

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Regarding players, top goalscorer Umar Sadiq, on loan from Roma, has three Europa League goals – one during qualification – to add to his league tally of five, and may well be the danger man alongside strike partner Takuma Asano.

Lazar Marković has three goals in four Europa League games, and the former Liverpool man is expected to be on the right flank, as a former United winger starts on the left-hand side – more on that soon.

Previous matchday lineup

(4-4-2) Stojković; Miletić, Ostojić, Pavlović, Urošević; Soumah, Zdjelar, Natcho, Tošić; Asano, Sadiq

Familiar Face – Zoran Tošić

Now 32, the Serbian winger spent a year at United having joined from Partizan with teammate Adam Llajić, but made just two competitive appearances.

In September 2012, Tošić told the Daily Record that he regretted walking away from Old Trafford after a loan move to FC Köln gave him the desire to play regular first team football.

The boyhood Red Devil said: “In the end I wasn’t sure I was going to get the chance I felt I deserved so decided to change club.

“Even now I am always thinking about that moment. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so quick and should have worked longer to show Sir Alex.”

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Tošić also praised former gaffer’s personality, saying: “There is nothing worse than feeling isolated when you are not in the first team but Sir Alex always took time to speak to me and explain things.

“I appreciated that a lot.”

The Steamroller’s number seven has eight direct goal contributions in 15 games this campaign, and the 76-time Serbian international will likely be a threat.

Quote from the boss

“Man United is definitely in the top three biggest clubs in the world even today… I am certain that in the future all of Europe will see how good they are.” – Savo Milošević

Next match: Spartak Subotica [H] 27/10

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THE RED DEVILS

An improved and highly-spirited performance helped United earn a draw against Liverpool on Sunday but having lead until later on, it was difficult not to be disappointed heading into the week.

VAR came to the rescue for the Red Devils but will not be available in Serbia.

Moreover, with the NBA is restarting soon, Solskjær will hope to make sure no Steamroller players are ‘playing basketball,’ like he referred to post-match – following an alleged foul during the build-up to Marcus Rashford’s opener.

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There was heartwarming news on Monday as U23 defender Max Taylor returned after eight months out since being diagnosed with cancer.

Taylor came on in the first half in the youth team’s 1-4 win at Swansea City as Ethan Laird also returned from his own time of the sidelines, while Teden Mengi picked up a serious-looking injury.

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Team news

In a tweet on Tuesday, Diogo Dalot revealed he picked up an injury at Newcastle almost three weeks ago.

The versatile Portuguese full-back will miss the trip, as well as left-back Luke Shaw, meaning Laird is an obvious candidate to take along with Brandon Williams as full-back support.

David De Gea has not travelled, while young Czech Republic goalkeeper Matěj Kovář has his first chance to mix the first team.

The 19-year-old is joined by fellow youngsters Ethan Laird, James Garner and Mason Greenwood but there was no room on the plane for Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes.

Solskjær may well switch back to a four-man defence, but could be tempted to stick with a seemingly successful 3-5-2 with Phil Jones potentially returning to the starting XI.

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Nemanja Matić will not return to his home country given his injury.

Matić, capped 48 times by his country has been a Serbia national team-mate of four Partizan players – Tošić, Marković, goalkeeper Vladimir Stojković, and defender Nemanja Miletić.

Injuries/suspensions (estimated return)

  • Eric Bailly – knee ligaments (three months)
  • Diogo Dalot – knock (unknown)
  • Timothy Fosu-Mensah – knee (back in training)
  • Paul Pogba – ankle (two weeks)
  • Nemanja Matić – knock (day to day)
  • Luke Shaw – hamstring (one week)
  • Axel Tuanzebe – hip (day to day)

Expected lineup

(4-2-3-1) Romero; Young, Jones, Rojo, Williams; McTominay, Fred; Greenwood, Mata, James; Martial

Quote from the boss

“The Europa League is important for us. The last time we were in it, we won it. [Qualifying for] the Champions League next season is an aim, so whether it’s through the top four or the Europa League, it doesn’t matter.” – Ole Gunnar Solskjær

 Next match: Norwich City [A] 27/10

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POTENTIAL KEY BATTLES

– Umar Sadiq vs Phil Jones

– Zoran Tošić vs Ashley Young

– Nemanja Miletić vs Daniel James

MATCH FACTS [FotMob]

  • The only previous occasion Partizan and United have met was in the 1965-66 European Cup semi-finals; the Steamroller won the home leg 2-0 before losing 0-1 away to reach the final
  • This is the Red Devils first meeting with Serbian opposition (including when part of Yugoslavia) since the 1991 European Super Cup, in which they beat Red Star Belgrade 1-0 thanks to a Brian McClair strike
  • United remain unbeaten in 13 Europa League matches since defeat away to Fenerbahçe in November 2016 (W9 D4) – they have kept nine clean sheets in this run, never conceding more than once in a game
  • Partizan are unbeaten in 11 home games in European competition (W8 D3)

Enjoy the match!

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