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Manchester United vs. AS Saint-Etienne: Three opposition players to look out for

The Red Devils go head-to-head with Saint-Etienne on Thursday. Here are three players to look out from the French club.

SS Lazio v AS Saint-Etienne - UEFA Europa League Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

With the return of the Europa League on Thursday, Manchester United will host French side Saint-Etienne at Old Trafford in the first leg of the knockout stages.

José Mourinho and his men will be looking to end the first leg of the tie in winning fashion, but the Ligue 1 side will be no pushovers.

Here are the three players that could give the Red Devils a tough time at Old Trafford.

Florentin Pogba

As a lot of Manchester United fans will know since the draw of the Europa League knockout stages, Florentin Pogba is the older brother of Paul Pogba, and the interesting battle between the pair could decide the outcome of the fixture.

The Guinean international is utilised as a centre-back, but can also play as a left-back when he is needed as cover. Despite completing only 13 appearances in Ligue 1 so far this season, he is regarded as a dominant individual in the air and tends to dribble out of defence with the ball. Completing a successful figure of 1.9 aerial duels won per game, the 26-year-old is set to make sure that his opponent will not be in for an easy ride against him.

With a lot of Manchester United fans expecting Mourinho to field a strong team on Thursday night, it would give Paul’s brother a big chance to prove himself against one of the best strikers within Europe in Zlatan Ibrahimović.

Jordan Veretout

Currently on loan from Championship side Aston Villa, Jordan Veretout is enjoying his time in France as he is recognised as Saint-Etienne’s key player in the centre of midfield. On top of that, no other individual from the club has completed more minutes than him in Ligue 1 this campaign.

Whilst playing in front of the defence, Veretout normally provides the back four with protection and will be in for the game of his life on Thursday, as the Red Devils have been causing a lot of havoc within the opposition’s half in recent weeks.

As well as winning loose balls and breaking up play, the Frenchman also helps on the attacking side of the game by setting his team off on the counter-attack. So far this season, Veretout has shown that he can come up with the goods as he as bagged two goals and two assists as well as 28 key passes in the league.

Romain Hamouma

With Saint-Etienne likely aiming to play on the counter-attack in this away game, Romain Hamouma will be a dangerous player in the final third of the pitch for the French side.

The 29-year-old is regarded as an important versatile player, mainly playing as a right winger but with the ability to play on the left flank as well as in the role behind the striker. Currently on six goals and two assists in the league, Hamouma thrives from his pace to get away from defenders and is also considered a reliable player when his side depends on him to produce the end product.

Hamouma is expected to play either on the right wing or as the lone forward on Thursday. With his ability to hold up the ball very well alongside his capability of dribbling through a defence with ease, either Chris Smalling or Eric Bailly could be in for an attention-grabbing duel with the attacker.