Wednesday 8 March 2017

Match preview: FC Rostov v United

United make the 2,000 mile trip for a first ever meeting with Russian side FC Rostov amid concerns over their pitch. 

The Reds cruised past Saint-Etienne 4-0 on aggregate last time out to set up this Europa League last-16 tie against a side who narrowly missed out on qualification to the Champions League knockouts.

In their first ever European campaign, Rostov famously beat Bayern Munich 3-2 at the Olimp-2 to finish a creditable third in the competition's "Group of Death", a pool which also contained Spanish giants Atletico Madrid. 

Ivan Daniliants side are unbeaten at home for nearly two years - May 2015 was their last loss on home soil - and Mourinho admitted the state of their surface could affect his team selection.

He said: "It's hard to believe that we play a European away match on this field, if you can call it a field.
"I don't know which team to play, really, I have a lot to think about because I was expecting something more playable.
"I spoke to a gentleman from UEFA when I looked at the pitch and he said that is something happens then no problem - the players are insured so we shall play.
"Normally I know my selection a couple of days beforehand but this time I don't so it is difficult.
"It's a similar pitch to the one we had in China when Man City decided not to play, but this time we have no option so we have to deal with the situation." 

The Reds faced a similar struggle in Ukraine in the last group match when they defied a plastic surface and sub-zero temperatures to beat Zorya Luhansk 2-0. 

United will definitely be without Eric Bailly through suspension after his sending off in the second leg against Saint-Etienne.
The hosts have a near full-strength squad to pick from but first-choice keeper Soslan Dzhanaev will miss out with injury. 
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is set to feature despite a three-match domestic ban and Henrikh Mkhitaryan has travelled, although the Armenian's hamstring may not be risked. 

Both players featured prominently in the last round, after Mkhitaryan rubber-stamped Ibra's first hat-trick for United in a comfortable two-legged win over the Ligue 1 side. 

Rostov also enjoyed an impressive aggregate victory to reach this stage as they brushed aside their Champions League disappointment to despatch Sparta Prague 5-1. 

Form guide: Rostov W D W L D W United W W W W W D 
Match odds: FC Rostov 17/4 Draw 5/2 United 4/5
Referee: Felix Zwayer (Germany) 

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