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Manchester United are rounding the corner into the final furlong of an exhausting season.
Erik ten Hag’s side have already played 46 matches across all competitions heading into the March international break – which won’t offer much rest to a squad full of players jetting off to join up with their country’s team.
Here’s what the weary limbs of Manchester United’s squad will be put through when club football resumes in April.
Manchester United have enjoyed and endured mixed fortunes since beating Newcastle to the Carabao Cup in February’s Wembley final. While Ten Hag’s side managed to secure a spot in the Europa League quarter-finals, United were also walloped 7-0 by their fiercest rivals.
Alexander Isak’s emergence as a scoring alternative to the goal-shy Callum Wilson has helped steer Newcastle out of a tailspin, setting up an intriguing encounter at St James’ Park between two teams vying for a spot in the top four.
United’s humbling 4-0 loss to Brentford in August was the first chance Ten Hag had to flex his managerial authority. After getting embarrassingly outrun by their west London hosts, the Dutch boss accompanied his squad on a run the following day to make up the 13km discrepancy.
All eyes will be on the United’s odometer as Brentford search for their first Old Trafford victory since the Second World War.
Since suffering a 3-0 reverse at home to Everton within a month of the competition’s inception, Manchester United have lost precisely one more match at Old Trafford against the Toffees in Premier League history.
Former Everton stalwart David Moyes was in United’s dugout on that bleak December evening, losing to an 86th-minute winner from Bryan Oviedo. However, Everton are unbeaten in their last three trips to the Theatre of Dreams and claimed a point on their previous visit to Manchester, earning an unlikely draw with City on New Year’s Eve.
Up against the Europa League experts, United will have to earn the club’s first-ever victory over Sevilla in the Spanish side’s competition of choice to reach the semi-finals.
Jorge Sampaoli’s team are in a desperate bunfight to avoid the club’s first relegation since 2000 but also face expectations of maintaining their dominance in Europe’s second-tier competition; Sevilla have won the Europa League a record six times, defeating Manchester United in the semi-finals of their most recent triumph in 2020.
34 days after leaving the Old Trafford turf in tears, Casemiro will once again be available for a Premier League match. Time will tell how United fare while the Brazilian serves his four-match suspension but there’s little doubt that Casemiro will be swiftly ushered back into the starting lineup at the first available opportunity.
Against a Nottingham Forest side that have proven to be a potent threat on the break, especially at home, Casemiro’s return will surely be warmly received by any one of a Red Devils persuasion.
Only La Liga champions Real Madrid had a better home record than Sevilla last season. Yet, the Andalusian side earned just one win across all competitions in front of their fans before the World Cup.
Since the winter hiatus, Sevilla have rediscovered the strength of the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, winning seven of their first eight home games after the restart.
Manchester United have already earned a Europa League victory in Seville this season, easing to a 1-0 win in the round of 16 away to Real Betis after delivering a commanding 4-1 triumph on home soil in the first leg.