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St-Etienne could be set to salvage some pride

French side can give home fans a reason to cheer

Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Manchester United celebrates with a fan against Blackburn
1 of 1

Europa League last 32 second leg
BT Sport Europe, 5.00pm Wednesday

St-Etienne's chances of reaching the Europa League last 16 were considerably reduced by a 3-0 defeat at Old Trafford last Thursday but they can salvage some pride by defeating Manchester United in the second leg.

United's main focus this week is Sunday's EFL Cup final against Southampton but they have immense depth and Jose Mourinho can afford to make a raft of changes without putting Europe League ambitions at serious risk.

Even an entirely second-string United side would be peppered with senior internationals but there are question marks over how much effort they will put into the game.

United have been guilty of playing in cruise mode on numerous occasions this season and were at it again in the FA Cup fifth round at Blackburn on Saturday until the introduction of Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic helped them scrape a 2-1 success over the Sky Bet Championship strugglers.

They also did just enough in their EFL Cup semi-final tie against Hull - winning the home leg 2-0 and losing 2-1 in the return match after a performance almost entirely devoid of tempo, urgency and aggression.

At their best United can blow away teams but they often play in fits and starts and are highly likely to save their best for Wembley on Sunday.

Part of St-Etienne's challenge is to believe they can get back into the tie - they are 40-1 to progress - but their manager, Christophe Galtier, has promised to field the best team possible.

They played better at Old Trafford than the score suggests and Galtier was understandably unhappy with a couple of refereeing decisions - a penalty and a free-kick - which led to two of United's goals.

St-Etienne are likely to be a tougher proposition at home, having lost just twice in 19 games at the Geoffroy-Guichard stadium this season.

Their vocal supporters tend to get right behind them and played their part in a impressive 2-0 victory at home to regional rivals Lyon earlier this month.

Les Verts are unbeaten in their last ten Europa League home matches although it has to be said that none of their opponents were of United's stature.

United's task is simply to manage the occasion and get through to the next round without picking up any injuries.

They will raise their game if the need arises but a slender defeat would be an acceptable outcome, allowing the home side to save face and the visitors to march on to the next round.

Recommendation
St-Etienne
1pt 27-10 Betfair

Bet on this match at soccerbase.com

St-Etienne (4-2-3-1): Ruffier; Theophile-Catherine, Perrin, F Pogba; Veretout, Pajot; Jorginho, Saivet, Monnet-Paquet; Hamouma.

Subs: Beric, Selnaes, Roux, Lacroix, Pierre-Gabriel, Lemoine, Soderlund. 

Man Utd (4-2-3-1): Romero; Valencia, Bailly, Smalling, Blind; Fellaini, Pogba; Lingard, Mata, Martial; Rashford.

Subs: Fosu-Mensah, Ibrahimovic, Schweinsteiger, Rojo, Young, Carrick, Mkhitaryan.


Team news
St-Etienne
Captain Loic Perrin has returned to training after a minor injury and is expected to start.

Man Utd
Ander Herrera is suspended. Wayne Rooney and Luke Shaw are back in full training but have not travelled. Matteo Darmian and Phil Jones have also stayed in Manchester.

Key stat
St-Etienne are unbeaten in their last ten Europa League home games.

Even an entirely second-string United side would be peppered with senior internationals but there are question marks over how much effort they will put into the game
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