Sevilla v Manchester United preview: Paul Pogba in contention
Last Updated: 21/02/18 10:14pm
Manchester United could welcome Paul Pogba back into their starting XI for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash at Sevilla on Wednesday.
The France international, whose performances have been scrutinised recently, along with his relationship with Jose Mourinho, missed Saturday's FA Cup win at Huddersfield due to illness.
However, he has travelled to Spain as United play their first Champions League knockout match since 2014.
Sevilla, who are fifth in La Liga, were knocked out by Leicester at this stage last year and are now hoping to make it to the quarter-finals at the fourth time of asking.
Head coach Vincenzo Montella joked that extreme measures might be needed to keep Alexis Sanchez quiet.
"I remember him really well from his stay in Italy," Sevilla coach Montella said of the former Udinese, Barcelona and Arsenal forward.
"He has improved his style a lot during his career and I think he can be a really good player in transition. How do we stop him? I don't know, we'll have to block him in some way, maybe tie him up with a rope."
Wednesday will only be Montella's second match coaching in the Champions League, with predecessor Eduardo Berizzo having led Sevilla to second place in Group E.
The former Argentina defender oversaw draws home and away to Liverpool before his controversial sacking in December, just a week after surgery to treat prostate cancer.
Ever Banega could feature for Sevilla after returning from a hamstring injury this week. Joaquin Correa is also in contention along with Nolito.
While Pogba should be available for United, Marouane Fellaini, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones remain absent.
Ander Herrera, Marcus Rashford and Antonio Valencia were on the plane after recovering from issues of their own, while David de Gea is set to be restored in goal after being rested.
United did not manage to score more than one goal in each of their last 14 Champions League encounters with Spanish opposition (7 goals total).
Sevilla have never kept a clean sheet in the Champions League knockout stages (6 games) but they have also won two of their three home games (L1).
Sevilla have won 72% of their home games in the Champions League (13 out of 18), the third highest tally after Real Madrid (76%) and Barcelona (73%) among teams to have played at least 15 home games in the competition.
Utd won five of their six group games this season, their highest tally in the Champions League since 2007/08. However, Manchester Utd have won only one of their last six Champions League knockout games (3-0 v Olympiakos in March 2014), drawing two and losing three.
Wissam Ben Yedder has scored 50% of Sevilla's goals in this season's Champions League (6 out of 12). Of all players of the progressed teams, only Cristiano Ronaldo netted a greater proportion of his side's goals in the group stages (53%).
I see everybody is panicking about injuries at Manchester United. Did Mourinho not say everyone should stop complaining about injuries? So, I was chuckling when he reeled off his list in his press conference.
Will he bring Pogba back in? Yes, get him back in there.
He loves delivering in the spotlight with his hairstyles and flicks. He doesn't do it near enough and Jose does not appreciate that side of a player's game, but the player Sevilla will be worried about most is Paul Pogba.
I said at the time Alexis Sanchez came in 'What disruptions will this cause?'. Marcus Rashford has been bombed out, Anthony Martial has been switched to the right and stopped scoring and Pogba has fallen out of the team.
The positive for United is Sevilla are a bag of Revels. They're fifth in La Liga but their goal difference is negative so that tells you everything about their defence, but they can hurt you on their day in the hostile Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
Charlie predicts: 2-1 and Nolito to score first (60/1 with Sky Bet)
Manchester United are Sky Bet's 6/4 favourites to establish a first-leg lead, with Sevilla priced at 2/1 while the draw is a 9/4 chance. Jose Mourinho's men are currently 16/1 to win the Champions League while their visitors are all but written off as contenders at 150/1. Romelu Lukaku heads the first goalscorer betting at 5/1 while Alexis Sanchez is enhanced from 11/2 to 13/2 to break the deadlock in Sky Bet's Price Boosts.