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Starting XI: Manchester United vs. FC Copenhagen

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United head to Cologne for one last shot at silverware in 2019/20

Manchester United v LASK - UEFA Europa League Round of 16: Second Leg Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Everything that you need to know ahead of Monday’s match:

(1) While Manchester United’s place in the Europa League quarterfinals was never in doubt, FC Copenhagen had to overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit against Turkish champions Istanbul Basaksehir to reach this point. They did just that in a comprehensive 3-0 win last week, thanks to a Jonas Wind brace and another goal from star-man Rasmus Falk. It also marks the furthest that Copenhagen have ever advanced in a European competition.

(2) A much-changed Manchester United side finished off LASK with a 2-1 win on Wednesday. It’s hard to predict how Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will handle the remainder of this competition: Will he keep the faith with his squad players and treat the Europa League like a glorified preseason? Or revert to his first-choice eleven as the clubs nears a trophy, even if they did play heavy minutes during the Premier League run-in?

(3) Ole is certainly keeping his cards close to his chest. When asked whether Sergio Romero will continue in goal, he demurred:

I’m not going to say Sergio is the Europa League keeper. It’s between him and David all the time. We’re going to pick a team that we think is going to win this tournament, so you’ll just have to wait and see.

(4) From here on out, it’s all one-legged knockout matches in the Europa League. If the Reds defeat Copenhagen on Monday, they will face either Wolves or Sevilla in the semifinals.

(5) FC Copenhagen finished second in the Danish Superliga this season and have impressed so far in the Europa League. Back in February, Copenhagen went to Scotland and beat Celtic 3-1 in a pivotal second-leg matchup. More importantly, though, that match showed how dangerous these Danes can be when conceding possession (just 38%) and striking on the break. Expect a similar strategy on Monday against Manchester United.

(6) FC Copenhagen boss Stale Solbakken is quite a character. During his two managerial spells with the club, he has led them to eight league titles. Forget about his ill-fated time at Wolves — this guy is legit. And, after the big win over Istanbul Basaksehir, Solbakken provided his players with all the motivation they’ll need to knock off Manchester United: his win bonus.

(7) While a Copenhagen player in 2001, Solbakken collapsed during training and was technically dead for over a minute before being revived. That scary incident pushed him to cut short his playing career and transition into the coaching side of the game.

(8) Solskjaer on Solbakken:

I know Stale really well. A good friend of mine. I did my pro license study with him in Copenhagen, so I know what there is to know about Stale, probably. And he probably knows what there is to know about me. I’m looking forward to it.

(9) Copenhagen’s key player: 28-year-old Rasmus Falk, who plays in midfield and thrives in space. The right-footed attacker often lines up on the left, but loves to cut inside and wreak havoc with his favored foot. Communication between Aaron Wan-Bissaka and his center backs will need to be on point, because Falk does not stay put and must be carefully watched.

(10) Rasmus Falk on Monday’s big game:

Of course we are optimistic before the meeting against Manchester United, but they have been good — and have been especially good after the coronavirus break. We must chase our chance, but there is no doubt that United will be favorites.

(11) Copenhagen will not be at full strength for this one. 35-year-old Dame N’Doye, who scored 12 goals this season (and 118 in his FC Copenhagen career), left the club last week. Solbakken called N’Doye the best striker in the history of the club and desperately hoped to re-sign him, but no agreement could be reached on a new contract.