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Starting XI: AS Roma vs. Manchester United

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The Reds are back in action and just one small step from the Europa League final

Manchester United v AS Roma - UEFA Europa League Semi Final: Leg One Photo by Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images

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

(1) Manchester United are in complete control of this semifinal tie after that 6-2 first-leg thrashing at Old Trafford. Generally, allowing two away goals in the home leg is a recipe for disaster — and things didn’t look too hot with a 2-1 deficit at halftime — but United’s eventual onslaught rendered those away goals meaningless and all but punched their ticket to the Europa League final.

(2) The news surrounding Manchester United this week has been light on football, but here’s a quick refresher of the injury situation from before the postponed Liverpool match. The Reds are almost completely healthy with just Anthony Martial and Phil Jones still missing. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will likely rotate his side on Thursday with such a huge advantage from the first leg and should hand some much-needed rest to stalwarts like Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes.

(3) An injury update on Anthony Martial:

(4) In last round’s second leg against Granada, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer stacked his bench with several promising academy players — and could do so again with the result of this tie in little doubt. Two of those young guns, Anthony Elanga and Shola Shoretire, scored braces in Monday’s U23 match. It remains to be seen whether their involvement on Monday rules them out of the midweek trip to the Stadio Olimpico.

(5) Since bouncing out of the Champions League in the group stage, Manchester United have barely had to break a sweat in Europe’s lesser competition. The Reds have played three matches on the road in the Europa League, winning all three and keeping a clean sheet on each occasion.

(6) On the other hand, AS Roma’s defense is a total mess. They’re allowing 1.56 goals per Serie A match and have already conceded more goals this season than all of last year. With a defensive record that bad, it was no surprise to see Manchester United put six past them last week at Old Trafford.

(7) It got no better at the weekend as Roma lost 2-0 to Sampdoria. Roma remain seventh in Serie A, but have been cut well adrift from all of the teams above them. As it stands now, they would qualify for the UEFA Conference League next season, but even that small comfort is tenuous as Sassuolo sit just two points behind the Giallorossi.

(8) Following the loss to Sampdoria, Paulo Fonseca struggled to explain what’s going on with his team:

It’s a difficult period for us. We did well in the first half, but we didn’t react after they scored. We didn’t have the strength to respond in the second half. The loss to Manchester United left a mark on us. This is something difficult to get past.

(9) Fonseca’s time in charge of Roma grows short. The rumor mill is in overdrive that Maurizio Sarri will take over in the summer and, on Tuesday morning, Roma ended some of the suspense by announcing that Fonseca will leave the club when his contract expires at season’s end.

(10) In the first leg, Roma lost three starters to injury in the first 37 minutes of the match. That left Fonseca without any substitutes for the rest of the game and Roma without some of their top players — Jordan Veretout, Leonardo Spinazzola, and Pau Lopez. They all missed Roma’s weekend match, too, and must be considered doubts for Thursday. In Lopez’s case, he has already been ruled out for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury.

(11) Since Manchester United already have one foot in the Europa League final, let’s take a look at their potential opponents in Gdansk. In the other Europa League semifinal, Villarreal defeated Arsenal 2-1, but the tie still hangs in the balance due to Nicolas Pepe’s away goal. Arsenal need just a 1-0 win on Thursday night at the Emirates to advance.