Manchester United vs Real Betis predictions: Betis can pile on the agony
- Man Utd are coming off a 7-0 defeat that threatens to derail their form and confidence
- Real Betis have won four and drawn one of their last five away Europa League games
- Recommended bet: Back Real Betis to win or tie
Four days after their Anfield collapse, Manchester United get a chance to make amends when they host Real Betis in the first leg of the Europa League's round of 16.
The critics have been piling on the Red Devils' performance in the aftermath of Sunday's 7-0 defeat to Liverpool, but Erik ten Hag expects his players to learn their lesson and backed the much-maligned Bruno Fernandes over questions about his leadership capability.
United's mentality and energy levels will need to be much better when they face a Real Betis side also occupying third place in their domestic league and unbeaten in their last seven Europe matches.
Manuel Pellegrini's side warmed up for their trip to Old Trafford with a resolute 0-0 home draw against Real Madrid on Sunday in which they largely restricted the LaLiga champions to shots from outside the box.
Ten Hag will probably resist the temptation to make wholesale changes and stick with the majority of the side that started at Anfield. However, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Jadon Sancho could return to his starting XI.
Sancho, Luke Shaw and Raphael Varane passed late fitness tests to feature against Liverpool, and all seemed to come through the clash unscathed as the winger went unused and the two defenders completed 90 minutes each.
Ten Hag has confirmed Anthony Martial will miss out again as he slowly works his way to fitness following a hip injury, and Marcel Sabitzer is also absent with an unspecified issue.
Aside from long-term injury casualties, Christian Eriksen and Donny van der Beek, the Dutchman stated everyone else is available.
For Betis, Pellegrini is unlikely to deviate too far from the players who started against Real Madrid on Sunday.
Right-back Youssouf Sabaly dealt with Vinicius Junior well enough to suggest he should keep his place to handle whichever attacking option United deploy on the left while there is no need to break up the central partnership of Luiz Felipe and German Pezzela either.
Guido Rodriguez and William Carvalho can expect to start in midfield, where their physical presence may be required to stop the hosts, and there could be a recall for Luiz Henrique out wide.
Nabil Fekir is out for the season, but Sergio Canales, who has missed three weeks with a hamstring problem, rejoined training this week and could be an option off the bench.
United have won only 20 of 70 previous matches against Spanish opposition in Uefa competitions, and their last five European campaigns have all been brought to an end by LaLiga clubs.
The Red Devils have recorded a mere four victories in their last 15 encounters with Spanish visitors to Old Trafford, losing six times during that span.
Los Verdiblancos have won three consecutive away games for the first time since February 2022.
Betis's away record in all rounds of the Europa League is W10 D5 L3, with no defeats in the last five matches and wins in all three road assignments this season.
How United react to Sunday's 7-0 Anfield annihilation will be crucial to the direction of their season, and while the team and manager will say and do all the right things to get back on track, better teams than them have been knocked off course by similar setbacks.
Ten Hag's first-choice defence was a shambles, and the attackers were in no way blameless either, as the likes of Fernandes and Rashford both missed big chances to put them ahead in the first half.
Some players, like Casemiro, looked to be running on empty, which is a concern in such a big game and with many more still to come.
Betis could therefore be a problem on Thursday as Pellegrini's side, who have won their last three La Liga away games and are unbeaten in their previous five European road trips, seem to have found a solid formula.
Their performance at home to Real Madrid at the weekend suggests they have the personnel to make things very uncomfortable for United and their fans in the first leg.
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