Manchester United welcome Liverpool at Old Trafford in the second leg of their Europa league last-16 tie, hoping to overturn a two-goal deficit in front of their own fans.
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It was not long ago that the mere thought of Manchester United slogging it out against their bitter rivals Liverpool in Europe’s second-tier club competition would have elicited laughs from several quarters. As it stands, it is the tie of the round and, very nearly, the last hope of a trophy for both of those teams this season.
Manchester United, however, know the task they face against Jurgen Klopp’s men is nothing short of monumental. Trailing by goals from Daniel Sturridge and Roberto Firmino, United have left themselves with all to do in the second leg, but manager Louis van Gaal expressed hope at the fact that his team can produce a performance that could be a silver lining to their faltering season.
Speaking at the pre-match conference, the Dutchman underlined the importance of fans and urged the Old Trafford faithful to be behind the team till the final whistle of the game, according to BBC News.
“It starts with the players, of course, but it starts also with the fans. They have a lot of impact on the pitch.
“We have to believe in it. I have spoken only with the players about the victory.
“We always owe to the fans a big result because the fans are paying to see that. We have to deliver.”
Van Gaal will have Marouane Fellaini at his disposal after UEFA confirmed that they would take no action against him for an alleged elbow on Emre Can at Anfield, according to Sky Sports. But Antonio Valencia, Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Ashley Young will fail to recover in time for the clash.
Jesse Lingard is expected to be back in the match-day squad after missing the first leg through suspension.
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For Jurgen Klopp, winning the Europa League during his first year in charge at Merseyside will be a major satisfaction. Although Liverpool have struggled domestically this season, the German has a good record in European competitions, and he will hope his team can finish the job that they started at Anfield during the first leg of the tie.
Also, the fact that Liverpool did not have any weekend commitments means they have had a full week’s rest before the game, which could definitely play into their hands as they go to preserve their two-goal lead at Old Trafford.
Speaking at the pre-match conference, Klopp said that his team would need to put in another energetic performance against United if they are to progress into the quarterfinals of the competition.
“We know about the job we have to do.We will try to play similar or more intensive.
“I am absolutely optimistic [that my team will put in a good performance]. We know that we know how to play them.
“It was a good night for us last week. But at the same time it’s only halfway. We’ll go into the game confident we can finish the job.”
Liverpool will be without fullback Jon Flanagan and centre-back Martin Skrtel, who is nursing a hamstring injury. However, Klopp will be pleased to have James Milner back in the squad after recovering from the virus that ruled him out of the first leg.
Soccer fans in North America hoping to watch Manchester United vs. Liverpool live online can catch it on FOX Sports 1 and ESPN 3, while those wanting to watch it online can watch it by following this link. You can also watch Manchester United vs. Liverpool live online at NBC’s Sports Live Extra, or download the NBC Sports Live Extra app to watch the match on mobile devices.
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