Man Utd fans will have been happy with their Europa League group when the draw was made last month, put alongside Sheriff, Omonia and Real Sociedad. In their opening matchweek Man Utd had the toughest of the three teams, Sociedad, at Old Trafford but optimism would have still been high. However, the Red Devils were beaten 1-0 thanks to a controversial penalty scored by Brais Mendez.
The defeat ended a four-match winning run for Man Utd which had seen them finally get up and running under Erik ten Hag, following their consecutive losses against Brighton and Brentford to start the season. The winning run was a good one too, bookended by a 2-1 victory over Liverpool and 3-1 win at previously-perfect Arsenal. Ten Hag had rotated slightly for the defeat against Sociedad but with this being Man Utd’s last game before the international break, the Dutchman could be tempted to go full-strength.
While Man Utd were losing at Old Trafford, Sheriff were getting their Europa League campaign underway with a convincing 3-0 victory over Omonia Nikosia. Sheriff started the campaign in the early qualifying rounds of the Champions League but dropped down to the Europa League after a 4-2 aggregate loss to Viktoria Plzen, their only two defeats of the season across all competitions, ending any dreams of another big Champions League group like last season.
Since that second defeat in Plzen, Sheriff have racked up an eight-game unbeaten run across all competitions and currently sit top of the Moldovan Super Liga. Fans will also be hoping to add Man Utd to the scalp of Real Madrid they collected last year, beating the eventual European champions in the group stage of the Champions League.
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Sheriff vs Man Utd match stats
Last week was Cristiano Ronaldo’s Europa League debut, having only previously played two matches in the Uefa Cup with Sporting CP, and he is searching for his first goal in the competition. While Ronaldo drew a blank last week and is yet to score for Man Utd this season, the Portuguese phenomenon isn’t often kept quiet for too long in Europe.
Although they did lose last week, Ten Hag has been building a stern defence at Man Utd, with Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez particularly strong when paired together. Varane x Martinez are still unbeaten as a starting duo for Man Utd, winning four matches with two clean sheets.
This will be the first competitive meeting between Sheriff and Man Utd. Sheriff have only faced English opposition once before, losing to Tottenham Hotspur in the 2013/14 Europa League group stage. Man Utd have never faced Moldovan opposition.