Roma vs Manchester United preview: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men look to confirm Europa League final berth

Man Utd lead 6-2 from the first leg; winner will face Arsenal or Villarreal in the final; follow Roma vs Man Utd via our dedicated live blog on Sky Sports website and app on Thursday; kick-off at 8pm

Manchester United are on the brink of reaching the Europa League final
Image: Manchester United are on the brink of reaching the Europa League final

Manchester United thrashed AS Roma 6-2 in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final tie at Old Trafford, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side must now put the turbulent events of the past week out of their minds and focus on reaching the final.

"You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see we have challenges to be dealt with," he said. "I would be sad if all the good work the players have gone got disrupted. Our focus is on playing well and getting to a final now."

It was only the fourth time Roma have conceded six or more goals in a match in major European competition, with two coming against United following the 7-1 defeat in April 2007.

Since the first leg, Roma have announced Jose Mourinho will replace Paulo Fonseca as their head coach on a three-year deal set to begin at the start of next season.

Mourinho memorably masterminded a 6-1 victory over Solskjaer's team last September so will he impart any advice to his compatriot? Fonseca acknowledges his side have a mountain to climb to reach the final.

"It's not easy to beat Manchester United 4-0, but I've seen many things happen in football. I believe in everything," he said.

United's first game since fan protest

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Paul Parker wants Manchester United given back to the people that care about the club following fan protests at Old Trafford

The visitors head into the second leg having had a full week of rest following the postponement of their Premier League encounter with Manchester United at Old Trafford last Sunday as a result of the anti-Glazer demonstration.

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Solskjaer reiterated the need for supporters to be listened to, but said protests had to be "civilised". Fan anger at the owners has been stirred up by the European Super League fiasco, with thousands of protestors demanding change.

A number of fans broke into the stadium and invaded the pitch during the protest, while another group made their frustrations clear at the team hotel in the city centre.

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Sky Sports News' Kaveh Solhekol explains the reasons behind many Manchester United fans' opposition to the Glazers' ownership of the club

"It was a difficult day for us," Solskjaer said. "Of course we wanted to play, we wanted to beat Liverpool for the fans because our job has to be getting good performances, good results on the pitch.

"That's the players' focus, that's my focus but, as I said before the game, we have to listen. We have to hear the fans' voice. It's everyone's right to protest, it has to be in a civilised manner, though. It has to be in a peaceful manner."

The Norwegian added: "Unfortunately, when you break in, when police officers get injured, scarred for life, that's too far. That's one step too far. When it gets out of hand like this, it's a police matter. It's not about showing your opinions anymore."

Can Dzeko spark another famous comeback?

Roma secured an historic comeback win over Barcelona in 2017
Image: Roma secured an historic comeback win over Barcelona in 2017

Back in April 2017, Roma produced one of the great Champions League comebacks by beating Barcelona 3-0 at the Stadio Olimpico to secure a 4-4 aggregate draw and reach the semi-finals on away goals.

Their powers of recovery will be put to the test again, but it would require an even greater show of resolve if Roma are to book their place in this month's final in Gdansk on May 26.

Edin Dzeko played and scored in that famous turnaround four years ago, and he will lead the attack once more. The former Manchester City striker scored in the first leg, and has a fine record against United.

Now 35, Dzeko made it six goals in his five appearances against United at Old Trafford, scoring five in his last three games there, and Fonseca will rely on the striker once more to provide a focal point for his side.

The Bosnia international has scored in five of his last six Europa League appearances for Roma. In all major European competitions, he has 31 goals for the Serie A club, at least three more than any other player. The man who played his part in City's dramatic final day Premier League triumph in 2012 will certainly have his say in the second leg.

Ole on brink of booking first final date

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Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was full of praise for his side's second-half performance in their 6-2 win over Roma in their Europa League semi-final

Solskjaer was due to overtake Mourinho's games in charge of United last Sunday but will now do so in Rome, taking the reins for the 145th time.

The Norwegian is still standing, while Mourinho has been and gone at Tottenham. Qualifying for the Champions League in his first full season brought a measure of vindication for Solskjaer, but he must now train his sights on winning something.

Solskjaer's record in semi-finals as Man Utd manager

Match Competition Round Result
Man City League Cup Semi-final Lost 2-0
Sevilla Europa League Semi-final Lost 2-1
Chelsea FA Cup Semi-final Lost 3-1
Man City League Cup Semi-final Lost 3-1

United are looking to progress to their first major final in any competition under Solskjaer having previously been knocked out of all four cup semi-finals under the Norwegian.

"We're not going to play on the result, we're going to play to win that game," the United boss said.

"That's the only way I think we can play this game. Of course there might be one or two changes in the selection, but we have to get into the final.

"Everyone says it's done but I've seen bigger upsets than this. Roma beat Barcelona in a second leg after being 4-1 down."

How will Roma respond to Jose appointment?

Jose Mourinho will join Roma next season
Image: Jose Mourinho will replace Paulo Fonseca at Roma

Fonseca conceded the time was right for him to leave the club after receiving confirmation on Tuesday he will be replaced by Mourinho at the end of the season.

The Serie A club made the shock announcement of Mourinho's appointment just over two weeks after he was sacked by Tottenham, and a few hours after confirming Fonseca's exit.

"For me, professionalism is a sacred value. I am as motivated here today as I was on my first day. I want to do my best for Roma until the final day," Fonseca said.

"Mourinho is a great coach, we all know that. I think he will do a great job. Speaking honestly, I thought it was time to follow a different path away from Roma."

Paulo Fonseca (AP)
Image: Fonseca is departing Roma at the end of the season

United now have the opportunity to deny their former manager a Champions League berth by ending their hopes of qualifying via winning the Europa League.

"It was very surprising," Roma expert John Solano told Sky Sports of this week's appointment. "This was not something that was on anybody's radar to be honest. Many in Rome felt that Maurizio Sarri was the favourite. There were some talks between the Roma board and him but this really came out of nowhere.

"It took everyone by surprise, but the enthusiasm following this announcement and the departure of Fonseca has been very high. The supporters are going crazy for this, and it doesn't really seem like his previous two stints [at Man Utd and Tottenham] have affected the enthusiasm surrounding this move.

"This has been almost unilaterally extremely positively by Roma supporters."

Will Fernandes be rested?

Bruno Fernandes has been a virtual ever-present for Man Utd this term
Image: Bruno Fernandes has been a virtual ever-present

Since his competition debut in 2018, Bruno Fernandes has been directly involved in 30 Europa League goals, scoring 19 goals and providing 11 assists - at least seven more than any other player.

He returned to his best form in the first leg, but with United already with one foot in the final, this would appear the perfect opportunity to provide the Portugal international with a rest.

But speaking ahead of the trip to Rome, Fernandes said: "I hope to play more than 50 [games] next season again. When you play for a club like this your standards have to be high.

"Roma was not my best game but on numbers everyone will say it's the best I've done. Two goals and two assists: it's the first time I've done that."

Team news

Davide Calabria battles for possession with Daniel James
Image: Daniel James has been ruled out through injury

Roma goalkeeper Pau Lopez misses out after dislocating his shoulder in the first leg with Daniel Furzato and Antonio Mirante competing for the position.

Fonseca made seven changes for the weekend defeat to Sampdoria in Serie A, with Leonardo Spinazzola, Jordan Veretout and Amadou Diawara all injured.

Defender Gianluca Mancini is available after suspension and former United defender Chris Smalling and Henrikh Mkhitaryan will hope to be in the starting line-up again.

Daniel James has not travelled with the Manchester United squad due to injury. The 23-year-old was absent from the squad named for Sunday's ultimately postponed Premier League clash against Liverpool.

James joins Anthony Martial and Phil Jones on the sidelines, with Amad Diallo and Anthony Elanga named as part of the 24-man squad heading to Italy.

How to follow

Edinson Cavani celebrates after scoring Manchester United's second goal against Roma
Image: Edinson Cavani scored twice in the first leg

Follow live text commentary of Roma vs Man Utd via our dedicated live blog across Sky Sports' digital platforms.

Opta stats

  • In the history of the UEFA Cup/Europa League, of the 225 previous instances of a team losing the first leg of a two-legged knockout tie by 4+ goals, just two have progressed; FK Partizan v QPR in the 1984-85 last 32 and Real Madrid v Borussia Monchengladbach in the 1985-86 last 16.
  • Manchester United have won five of their last six meetings with Roma in all competitions, drawing the other 1-1 in December 2007.
  • Roma have not lost both legs of a two-legged knockout tie in major European competition (excluding qualifiers) since the 2015-16 UEFA Champions League last 16 versus Real Madrid, while they last did so in the UEFA Cup/Europa League in the 2009-10 last 16 v Panathinaikos.
  • Manchester United have won each of their last four UEFA Europa League games, last winning five successive matches in all European competition in May 2011, before losing to Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League final at Wembley.
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