FC Sheriff vs Manchester United predictions: Returning stars can get job done
Manchester United will hope to pick up the first points of their Europa League campaign when they travel to face FC Sheriff on Thursday evening.
While the Moldovan champions beat Omonia Nicosia in their opening Europa League encounter, Erik ten Hag's side fell to a 1-0 defeat to Real Sociedad last week.
United can ill-afford to lose any more ground on their group rivals, but can take nothing for granted against their hosts ahead of the meeting at the Zimbru Stadium.
Sheriff head coach Stjepan Tomas has no new injury concerns to deal with, but goalkeeper Dumitru Celeadnic should be absent after testing positive for coronavirus.
By contrast, Ten Hag has a number of injury problems to solve.
Striker Anthony Martial is still dealing with an Achilles issue, and is set to miss out, as are Marcus Rashford, Facundo Pellistri, Donny van de Beek, Martin Dubravka, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Brandon Williams.
Rashford's absence will be hard felt, with the striker having been tipped to return to Gareth Southgate's England squad on Thursday.
However, the forward missed training on Wednesday and was subsequently left out of the squad, with others needing to step up in his absence.
Wednesday's meeting will be the first competitive encounter between the two teams.
Sheriff have only faced an English opponent on one occasion, when they played Tottenham in the Europa League in the 2013-14 campaign, losing home and away.
Sheriff have not lost in their last eight games in all competitions, with their last defeat coming at the hands of Viktoria Plzen during qualifying for the Champions League.
Between December 2021 and August 2022, Sheriff only conceded four goals at home in all competitions, but they now face a different challenge against United.
Before their 1-0 defeat to Real Sociedad, United had won four games on the spin, scoring seven goals in the process.
They have won twice without conceding in their last two games away from Old Trafford, beating both Southampton and Leicester 1-0.
Sheriff have managed to punch above their weight in Europe for several seasons now, and after beating Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in the Champions League last season, they will be desperate to add another big scalp to their CV.
The Moldovan giants have won their last three games, and they led 1-0 at the interval in each of those.
United will need to be wary of a strong start from their hosts, but if they can withstand the pressure, they should come out on top on Thursday.
Ten Hag is likely to recall his first-team stars for the trip to Moldova, and the extra few days in training after last weekend's postponements should do them a world of good.
Sheriff's home advantage may help them to at least find the back of the net, but it is United that should come out on top in their second Europa League match of the campaign.