Everything that you need to know ahead of Wednesday’s match:
(1) The second leg of Manchester United vs. LASK should be a mere formality. The Reds lead this tie 5-0 after a blowout win in Austria back in March and, barring a shock 6-0 loss on Wednesday, will be on to the Europa League quarterfinals after this one. Reminder: This competition is United’s last chance at silverware in the 2019/20 season.
(2) It’s been a while, so here’s a quick refresher on the first leg. Due to several key injuries, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had to patch together a side for the trip to LASK. Nevertheless, even the fringes of Manchester United’s squad were too much for their Austrian opponents. Odion Ighalo opened the scoring and Daniel James added another one shortly after halftime. The Reds then poured on three more goals (Juan Mata, Mason Greenwood, and Andreas Pereira) after the 82nd minute to finish off the rout.
(3) On Wednesday, the only Reds sure to miss out with injuries are Luke Shaw and Axel Tuanzebe. An ankle knock kept Shaw out of the season's last three Premier League matches and looks certain to sideline him until next month. Tuanzebe, who started three times in the Europa League this season, has not played since the restart in June.
(4) With a 5-0 lead from the first leg, Solskjaer is unlikely to risk any of his top players. The United boss had to lean very heavily on his starters during the hectic Premier League run-in, making this the perfect opportunity to dust off some of the lesser-used youngsters like Diogo Dalot, James Garner, Teden Mengi, and others. Expect a much-changed eleven from last month’s win at Leicester.
(5) Manchester United returned to training on Sunday after almost a week off. Solskjaer on the preparations for the LASK match:
They need mental and physical time away from the place because the effort has been fantastic, so recharge the batteries for a few days and then go again.
We’ve got LASK and a 5-0 lead, so we don’t have to go in that game chasing a two or three-goal win. We just want a good performance and hopefully that will be enough to get into the quarters.
(6) Starting with the quarterfinals, all of the remaining Europa League matches will be held in Germany at neutral venues. Plus, the quarterfinals, semifinals, and (obviously) final will be single-leg knockout matches.
(7) If Manchester United finish off LASK on Wednesday, they will face the winner of Istanbul Basaksehir vs. FC Copenhagen. The Turkish side lead the tie 1-0 after the first leg, but must survive a tough trip to Copenhagen this week. Too close to call.
(8) It’s been a rough few months for LASK. The Austrian club entered the coronavirus shutdown near the top of the Bundesliga table, only to be docked points for an illegal full-squad practice in May. That debacle, plus a poor run of form after the season restarted, cost head coach Valerien Ismael his job. Wednesday at Old Trafford will be the new boss’s (Dominik Thalhammer) first competitive match in charge.
We are glad to announce the arrival of Dominik Thalhammer as our new joint Head Coach & Sporting Director. The former Austrian women’s team coach already has experience at the club, having worked as assistant under Karl Daxbacher in 2007/08. #togetherwearelask ⚫️⚪️ pic.twitter.com/xBGYKTwjnd— LASK English (@LASK_eng) July 11, 2020
(9) Thalhammer will have his hands full, as LASK skidded into season’s end and dropped all the way down to fourth in the Austrian Bundesliga. After the restart in June, LASK lost three of their first four matches and then — after a brief upswing — finished off the season with another three straight losses. This is a team low on confidence.
(10) For the past nine years, Dominik Thalhammer led the Austrian women’s national team to new heights. They reached the semifinals of the 2017 European Championship and are in excellent position to qualify for the same tournament again next summer.
(11) During his time with the women’s national team, Thalhammer earned a reputation for tactical flexibility and promoting youth players. He faces a brutal — and pretty hopeless — club debut against Manchester United, but could be just the man to lift LASK back to their championship best.