By Timothy Dehinbo
Manchester United and St Etienne face off in the UEFA EUROPA League Round of 32 fixtures, on Thursday Night at the Theater of dreams, Old Trafford.
Manchester United have not lost in 12 UEFA home games against French teams, but Saint-Étienne will hope 13 is their lucky number in what could be a Pogba v Pogba encounter in the round of 32.
These clubs met in the first round of the 1977/78 European Cup Winners’ Cup. Dave Sexton’s United earned a 1-1 draw in the first leg in France, but were ordered to play the return leg against Robert Herbin’s side at least 200km from Manchester due to crowd trouble. They won that return fixture 2-0 at Home Park, Plymouth, Stuart Pearson and
They won that return fixture 2-0 at Home Park, Plymouth, Stuart Pearson and Steve Coppell the scorers.
United have never lost a home match against French opponents (W9 D3). Their overall record in 24 UEFA games against French teams is W12 D10 L2.
St-Étienne’s six games against English sides have ended W1 D1 L4, they have lost on all three of their previous trips to England.
United have won all three of their European home matches this season and are unbeaten in 14 UEFA games at Old Trafford (W11 D3) since a 2-1 loss to Real Madrid in March 2013.
St-Étienne are undefeated in ten European games this season (W5 D5). United reached the last 16 in 2015/16, but the UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League remains the only major UEFA trophy they have not won.
Continental champions in 1968, 1999 and 2008, the Red Devils lifted the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1991.
Losing European Cup finalists in 1976, St-Étienne were eliminated in last season’s UEFA Europa League round of 32 by Basel.
Their best campaigns in this competition ended in the quarter-finals in 1980 and 1981.
Manchester United’s Paul Pogba is likely to come up against his older brother, St-Étienne defender Florentin Pogba. They have never met in a competitive game at club level.
United’s Zlatan Ibrahimović enjoyed playing St-Étienne during his time in France; he scored 14 goals in 13 games against Les Verts in all competitions.
Eric Bailly, and Ander Herrera of United are one booking away from a suspension José Mourinho took over as United boss last summer. Having made his name winning the UEFA Cup and UEFA Champions League with Porto, he lifted Europe’s top club prize again with Internazionale Milano as well as three Premier League titles during two stints at Chelsea.
In Mourinho’s last foray in this competition, he guided Porto to the 2003 UEFA Cup final, where they edged Celtic 3-2 in Seville.
St-Étienne coach since 2009, Christopher Galtier steered Les Verts to French League Cup success in 2012/13. He worked as an assistant to Alain Perrin at St-Étienne prior to getting the top job. Originally a defender, he started his playing career at home-town club Marseille.
The game should end in a win for the red devils with their recent form, and Zlatan’s history against this team is also a good sign for united, but they should be wary of the French champions trying to get a vital away goal.
PREDICTION: MANCHESTER UNITED 3 0 ST ETIENNE