Manchester United vs AS Roma — 5 Key Players to watch out for | UEFA Europa League 2020/21

Premier League giants Manchester United prepare to host Italian side AS Roma at Old Trafford in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League semi-final

The fixture marks the Red Devils’ second attempt at winning the European competition in as many years as they made it to the last four in 2019/20 as well, where they were knocked out by record champions Sevilla. However, they will fancy their chances this time around as they are the only semi-finalists to have previously won the competition.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are set to come up against two of their old teammates in Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Chris Smalling, who have gone on to do very well since leaving Manchester United. The Giallorossi finished in fifth place last season and will hope to go on and win the UEL to book a place in next year’s UCL, given that they’re currently seventh on the table.

With Manchester United’s place in Europe’s premier competition all but sealed with a second-place finish, they will hope to round off their impressive campaign with a piece of silverware to show for. Ahead of the game, here are five players to keep an eye on during Manchester United’s encounter with AS Roma.

#5 David de Gea | Manchester United

Manchester United v Granada CF - UEFA Europa League Quarter Final: Leg Two
Manchester United v Granada CF – UEFA Europa League Quarter Final: Leg Two

Dean Henderson’s rise to prominence at Manchester United has come at the expense of one of the club’s longest-serving players, David de Gea. The Spanish veteran has long been the Red Devils’ go-to custodian but his high-profile errors over the last few years, coupled with Henderson’s return, have led to him being demoted to second choice.

With rumours suggesting he could leave the club come summer and with questions over his ability at the highest level, De Gea — should he continue to start in goal in the Europa League — must be at his absolute best to silence his critics despite being the second choice keeper.

De Gea had a horror showing in the FA Cup semi-final last year, having been at fault for two out of the three goals they conceded against Chelsea. Will he step up to the occasion during this semi-final?

#4 Henrikh Mkhitaryan | AS Roma

AS Roma v UC Sampdoria - Serie A
AS Roma v UC Sampdoria – Serie A

Henrikh Mkhitaryan is one of two former Red Devils players who could be set for a homecoming on Thursday night. After a torrid time in North London and Manchester, the Armenian ace has earned himself a new lease of life since moving to the Italian capital.

The versatile 32-year-old has appeared over 60 times for the Giallorossi, scoring 20 times and setting up a further 17. He opened up about his ill-fated spell at Old Trafford and took a thinly-veiled shot ahead of game, saying;

“I won three trophies which was amazing. Some players have been playing in Manchester for ages but they haven’t won anything.”

Mkhitaryan will face the club he won his only Europa League title with on Thursday, but it remains to be seen if he can replicate the impact from four years ago for his new side. The Armenian scored for Manchester United in the final against Ajax back in 2016/17.

Also read: 5 Players who can replace Nemanja Matic at Manchester United

Published 29 Apr 2021, 06:23 IST

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