UEFA Europa League & Conference League Magazine - Episode 2Sep 29
Real Betis will hope home advantage gives them a chance of overturning a 4-1 aggregate deficit, but as things stand Erik ten Hag’s side are firmly in control of the tie.
Here are three reasons to watch Thursday night’s second leg, live on BT Sport.
Casemiro eager to amend Southampton red
After his second red card of the season for a dangerous tackle in United’s 0-0 draw with Southampton at the weekend, Casemiro has been given a four-match ban.
He walked down the tunnel in tears and there’s no doubt his absence in the coming weeks could hurt the Red Devils’ aspirations of a top four finish.
But the Brazilian midfielder will be available for the trip to Betis before his enforced spell on the sidelines.
It may be scant consolation for Ten Hag but having Casemiro in the team for an away game in Europe will help.
The former Real Madrid man will be in familiar territory having played against Betis many times, and more importantly he will be determined to redeem himself after letting his teammates down on Sunday.
Domestically, Casemiro has given Ten Hag an issue, but in the Europa League he could still play a big part.
Antony set to shine in Seville
It hasn’t been the easiest first season in English football for Antony following his big-money move from Ajax in the summer.
The Brazilian’s obvious skill and guile have not always shone through, but he thrived against a Real Betis side that played an open, expansive game at Old Trafford last week.
Antony’s goal was a trademark one: he cut inside onto his trusty left-foot and curled a shot beautifully into the top corner, leaving Claudio Bravo helpless.
He was lively throughout and it could be a similar story in the second leg, with Betis likely to leave plenty of space in wide areas as they look to overturn a three-goal deficit.
Ten Hag will hope such encouraging performances in the Europa League are the start of a more consistent run of form for his marquee signing, who was subdued again against Southampton in the Premier League last weekend.
There is pressure on Antony, without doubt, because of the transfer fee and because his level of skill promises so much but often flatters to deceive.
Moments of brilliance need to be transformed into prolonged spells of influence in games, and Thursday is the perfect time to start for the 23-year-old.
United look to avoid another harrowing away trip
Old Trafford has been something of a safe haven for United of late.
Ten Hag’s side were back at the Theatre of Dreams for the first leg against Betis immediately after their 7-0 humiliation at Anfield, and that proved a kind fixture.
Wounds were healed and players forgiven as United ran out comfortable 4-1 winners. That was followed by a disappointing goalless draw against Southampton, though that was mitigated by Casemiro’s first-half sending off.
All is in order at Old Trafford but there may be some trepidation in the United camp as they head back out on their travels; the last time they left Manchester, of course, was for a traumatic afternoon in Liverpool.
United haven’t always been poor on the road: they impressed in a 2-2 draw at Camp Nou in the Europa League playoffs and before that won tricky games at Leeds and Nottingham Forest.
There have been some catastrophic performances, though, notably the opening day drubbing at Brentford, the 6-3 Manchester derby defeat and the humbling Liverpool loss.
Ten Hag will be keen for his side to prove that these were anomalies, that there is no trend emerging.
Betis’ Benito Villamarín Stadium will be packed with over 50,000 home supporters and Manuel Pellegrini’s side have one of the best home records in La Liga.
This will be another test of United’s mettle.