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FC Astana vs. Manchester United: Solskjaer’s youngsters ‘backed to maintain fine European run’

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It might not be going as smoothly as some may have hoped for Manchester United in the Premier League, but their European form has helped ease at least some of the pressure on boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

They sit top of Group L in the Europa League with three wins and a draw from their four matches. Up next for United is a trip to Kazakhstan on Thursday evening, but it may be an even more youthful side than fans have been used to in Europe this season.

The English outfit have already qualified for the knockout stages of the competition, and could therefore field a largely inexperienced XI as they turn their attention to domestic football.

Astana sit rock bottom of the group after losing all four games so far, scoring just one goal in the process.

United head to Kazakhstan as strong favourites, and are 7/5 to take home all three points.

The home side are currently 9/5 to cause a major upset and pick up just their first win of the competition this season. A draw has been given odds of 13/5.

A fine Mason Greenwood strike was enough for Solskjaer’s outfit to edge past Astana in the opening round of fixtures back in October. It’s 11/2 for another Greenwood opener, and 13/8 for the 18-year-old to score anytime throughout the 90 minutes. 

Another narrow 1-0 victory for United can be backed at 17/2. Another win, coupled with AZ Alkmaar failing to win, will see the English giants clinch top spot in Group L.

The visitors boast four successive clean sheets going into the meeting, and are currently 5/2 to make it five in a row. The hosts are 11/4 to somehow keep their first shutout of the group campaign.

Runar Mar Sigurjonsson scored Astana’s only goal of the competition against Partizan. He’s currently 3/1 to double his tally on Wednesday.

The last time United qualified for the knockout stages of the Europa League, they went on to win the competition in 2016/17. Many fans will be hoping for a similar outcome this season, but they will be expecting tougher challenges as the rounds progress.

They have now gone 15 games without losing in the Europa League, the longest active unbeaten run of any current team in the competition. Moreover, United kept their sixth consecutive clean sheet in the group stages in the win over Partizan, last conceding against Fenerbahce this time three years ago.

The Red Devils join Basel, Celtic, Espanyol and Sevilla in the list of clubs to have already clinched a spot in the next round with two matches to spare.

Sports Journalism graduate, Liverpool and Northern Ireland fan. Currently working as a freelance journalist for GOAL, while I am a graduate of the FISU Young Reporters Programme at the 2019 Winter Universiade in Krasnoyarsk, Russia. Can follow me on Twitter or view my linkdin biography or contact me via my email .

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