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Manchester United vs Saint Etienne – Match Preview

As the Saint Etienne lyric go ‘But only love will break your heart’ but their could be heartbreak of a family nature Tonight as the World’s most expensive player Paul Pogba goes head to head with his older brother Florentin of the aforementioned Ligue 1 outfit.

Tonight brings a return to European action for these two clubs after their end of year hiatus and we’re now at the Round of 32 stage of the competition, one that not forgetting will reward the winner with the prize of entry to the Champions League.

One that United could well need come the end of the season what with the fact that they currently sit 6th in the Premier League. But that said they still only find themselves 2 points off of Arsenal in 4th and may not need the Europa League safety net after all.

One thing that may well go against come the end of the season is that progress in all the knockout cup competitions will bring a lot of additional matches. Something that Jose Mourinho touched on yesterday, but that is the price you pay for chasing success.

And you can bet with confidence that Mourinho will not be taking any competition lightly between now and the end of the season, with an EFL Cup Final on the horizon next Sunday while not to mention their defence of the F.A. Cup which also continues this weekend.

Many will feel that United will have the strength in depth to compete on as many fronts as possible and Tonight will probably be a test of the squad depth with fringe players possibly being given the chance to continue United’s impressive form over the past few months.

Manager Jose Mourinho has already gone on record by saying that his back four will consist of Antonio Valencia, Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling and Daley Blind. So not too many surprises there but further forward we could see a few changes made from the side that comfortably beat Watford on Saturday.

Old Trafford witnessed a United side which continues to find it’s stride at the weekend as it made easy work of Walter Mazzari’s side. Goals from Juan Mata and Anthony Martial were the difference as their Premier League unbeaten run continues.

Are they timing their surge into the top four at just the right time, it certainly seems that way and with some stupid enough to right them off at the end of 2016, they have slowly but surely been going about the business and are now very much in the hunt for a Top 4 finish come May.

The Premier League action does not resume until early March so it’s a run of 4 cup matches until then and Tonight’s opponents Saint Etienne will look to build on their relatively impressive domestic form which has seen them reach 5th in the French top flight.

Les Verts are some 19 points off of league leaders Monaco but have only lost 1 of their last 5 matches with the other 4 coming in the form of wins. So with that in mind they should be dismissed too quickly going into the first leg of this tie later Tonight.

But at the same time United are in almost unstoppable form, bar that EFL Cup Semi Final 2nd Leg slip up to Hull they have not had a blemish on their records in month and it’s something that I can’t see happening in front of their own fans this Evening.

Saint-Etienne will want to make sure they have at least something to take back to the 2nd leg next week (a ground I went to last Summer for Switzerland vs Poland in Euro 2016) but like me they may only have memories to take there as I think it will be a comfortable win for United as they all but secure their path to the Round of 16.

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