Manchester United v FC Copenhagen: Europa League quarter-final – live!

manchester-united-v-fc-copenhagen:-europa-league-quarter-final-–-live!

24 min Apparently the referee did point to the spot during that earlier incident, and then VAR overturned the decision because of an offside against Maguire.

22 min Romelu Lukaku has made it Inter 2-0 Leverkusen in Dusseldorf.

21 min: There’s a VAR check for a United penalty. I’m not sure exactly what happened because my TV briefly turned blue, but I think the upshot is that they would have had a penalty but for an offside against Maguire in the build-up.

20 min A loose clearance from Wan-Bissaka in his own area is blocked by Wind and almost ricochets to Daramy. Romero has to charge from his line to claim the ball.

19 min This United team often start games slowly, and tonight is no exception. FC Copenhagen have been the better team so far.

17 min: Chances galore for Copenhagen! Fred’s dismal pass was intercepted by Wind, who eased it forward to Daramy in the area. He twisted Bailly inside out before hitting a shot that was blocked desperately by Maguire, and then Wind’s follow-up was blocked by Pogba in the six-yard box.

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17 min In the other match tonight, Nicolo Barrella has made it Internazionale 1-0 Bayer Leverkusen.

16 min Falk’s corner from the left is flicked on at the near post, by a United player I think, and headed away by the flying Williams on the line. The ball wasn’t going in, though Nelsson was behind him waiting to score.

15 min Pierre Bengtsson replaces Boilesen, who must have pulled a muscle or some such.

13 min Biel’s deflected cross from the right so nearly falls for Daramy in the six-yard box. Bailly does really well to comes across and get a block in. Moments later, Wan-Bissaka is knocked off his feet when Boilesen’s hard-hit cross smacks him in the coupon. Weirdly, Boilesen seems to have injured himself in hitting the cross. He’s sitting down, a picture of frustration, and a substitute is being prepared.

11 min It’s been a fairly low-key start. United have had the more promising openings, but it’s certainly not a one-sided match.

9 min “I watched a Cologne match last season on the telly box, and my ear immediately picked up on the song being played as the team came out,” says Simon McMahon. “It was unmistakably Loch Lomond, the traditional Scottish folk song. The Cologne fans were belting it out, in German of course, but I couldn’t help wondering what the origins were. Anyone know?”

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8 min A free-kick to United 30 yards from goal, slightly to the right of centre. Rashford drives it a few yards wide.

6 min Pogba rakes an outrageous crossfield pass to Wan-Bissaka to set United on the wall. Eventually Fred drives a pass over the defence to Bruno Fernandes, whose header across the face of the goal is cleared by a Copenhagen defender. Martial wasn’t able to catch up with play.

4 min … and Jonas Wind heads it away at the near post. Copenhagen have made quite a fast start. Their formation is more of a 4-4-2 than 4-2-3-1, with Wind and Daramy up front.

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3 min United win an early corner on the left. Bruno Fernandes strolls over to take it…

1 min Peep peep! After the players on both sides take a knee – what did happen at the Etihad the other night – United get the game underway. It’s 32 degrees apparently.

The players emerge on a sultry evening in Cologne. Both teams are in their home strip: United red (Chevrolet), Copenhagen white (Carlsberg).

“Here in Germany it was never quite clear why Sancho should leave a young, dynamic team with Champions League qualification and the promise of better things to sign for Manchester United,” writes Paul. “I find it regrettable that certain sections of the Manchester United heavily biased press (no names), are even calling on Sancho to go on strike. Their arrogance, particularly in these Corona-stricken times, and the idea that Chelsea and United can buy everything in the Bundesliga, shows how far they are removed from reality.”

While I take your point, especially about the arrogance, I’m not sure they’re that far removed: do you not think Havertz and Sancho will end up at Chelsea and United this summer? As unpleasant as it is, this stuff has been going on since Moses wore short pants.

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“Hi Rob,” says Peter Oh. “It looks like Netflix star and former Sunderland player Bryan Oviedo is among Copenhagen’s substitutes.”

It’s an omen.

“Hi Rob,” says Lars Bøgegaard. “Could I interest you with a remarkable stat? Copenhagen has played 30 European games in a row without conceding more than one goal. That is seven more games than the second best on the list, one of the great Milan sides from the 90s.

“The last team to score more than one European goal against Copenhagen was Atletico Madrid in 2018. That record row surely will come to an end tonight, no? Here at the pub in Copenhagen we hope not!”

That really is a bonkers statistic. I hope you are sharing it with everyone else in Kennedy’s, or whichever pub you are in.

“No BT Sport for me so I’ll be with you throughout this gripping high stakes encounter,” says Neil Carter. “Good to see Bailly playing tonight, it always adds excitement in this house predicting the moment he either injures himself, a teammate or gives away a penalty/gets a red card. It gives these European nights extra spice. Greenwood to have a good game and score the winner for me tonight footballing gods. GGMU!!”

“Is it really such a surprise that Fred is selected this evening?” says David Wall. “Even when they were inconsistent in the first half of the season he was unarguably one of the few successes of the season (alongside Rashford and Martial). He seemed to have developed a decent relationship with Fernandes before the hiatus that gave Pogba time to regain fitness.

“Much as I was impressed by their post-lockdown form I thought it a shame that he was the one missing out in the new midfield three. He was pretty good evidence for the view that sometime players arriving to a new league just need a bit of time and, crucially, support from their manager to adjust and show the form that justified buying them in the first place.”

Don’t get me wrong, I like him a lot and agree with pretty much everything you say; I’m not just sure about him alongside Pogba. I’d much prefer Matic and Fred or Matic and Pogba, depending on the opposition. It’s also a surprise simply because Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has picked the same XI where possible, without Fred, for all the important games since late June.

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It’s a really warm night in Cologne, over 30 degrees, so there should be drinks breaks during both halves.

Pre-match reading (and listening)

If the match level after 90+4 minutes, it will go extra-time and potential penalties. The shorter format definitely increases Copenhagen’s chance of causing a shock.

“Would have picked McTominay over Fred – his forward thrusts cause the opposition problems,” says Francis Mead. “And Bailly always gives me the willies – he’s an accident waiting to happen.”

I assume Lindelof is only fit enough for the bench. The Fred decision is interesting; I didn’t see that coming.

Pre-match buzz-harsher

It’s all part of the game.

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Team news

Eric Bailly continues alongside Harry Maguire, with Victor Lindelof on the bench, and Fred is preferred to Nemanja Matic. That’s a bit of a surprise. If I was going to play Fred it would have be instead of Pogba rather Matic.

FC Copenhagen’s XI includes the former United right-back Guillermo Varela, one of the 327 youth players given their Old Trafford debut by Louis van Gaal.

Manchester United (4-2-3-1) Romero; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Williams; Pogba, Fred; Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Rashford; Martial.
Substitutes: De Gea, Fosu-Mensah, Lindelof, Mengi, Andreas, James, Lingard, Mata, Matic, McTominay, Chong, Ighalo.

FC Copenhagen (4-4-2) Johnsson; Varela, Nelsson, Bjelland, Boilesen; Biel, Zeca, Stage, Falk; Daramy, Wind.
Substitutes: Andersen, Grytebust, Bengtsson, Papagiannopoulos, Bartolec, Oviedo, Mudrazija, Kaufmann, Boving, Hjaelmhof.

Referee Clement Turpin (France)

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Preamble

Hello. We’re all desperate to get back to normal life, and I don’t know about you but I’m Jonesing for a pedicure. There are, though, are a few aspects of Covid life that are superior to the old normal. Exhibit A: the two-week festival of European football that starts in Germany tonight. It’s the best of all worlds. We get the splendour of European football with the thrill of a novelty format – and without the affront to tradition that would usually accompany such a TV-friendly mega-event.

The two mini-tournaments to decide the 2019-20 Champions League and Europa League are a bespoke response to a unique situation. There will be European football – knockout, cut-throat, business-end European football – on TV for 12 the next 14 nights (or days, depending on where you reside). It’s an orgy of jeopardy and everyone’s invited, just as long as they have the right TV package.

There are two games tonight: a humdinger between Internazionale and Bayer Leverkusen and an assumed walkover for Manchester United against FC Copenhagen, who are playing in their first European quarter-final. We’re covering the United game, though we’ll also have goalflashes from the other match in where the hell’s it being played, no you can’t just say ‘in Germany’, FFS this is amateur hou- Dusseldorf.

While United are favourites, their generally rich European history does feature plenty of unexpected defeats. The list of conquerors, whether over two legs or in a group game, includes Videoton, Galatasaray, Rotor Volgograd, Cluj – and FC Copenhagen when the teams last met 14 years ago. Complacency cost United then and, with a respectful nod to Rasmus Falk and Jonas Wind, is probably the biggest danger tonight.

If United were playing Celtic or Istanbul Basaksehir, the champions of Scotland and Turkey, I suspect we’d be taking the threat more seriously. And they would have been playing one of those teams, had Copenhagen not beaten them both.

Still, the likeliest scenario is a United win, and if they go through they will play either Wolves or Sevilla in the semi-final a week tonight. We might all have football fatigue by then. On this occasion, I doubt it.

Kick off 8pm.

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