The Europa League begins to get interesting at this stage of the competition, and both of the biggest ties at this stage of the competition are finely poised going into the second legs. But, which sides will be able to get the results that they need to get through to the next stage of the competition?
Manchester United vs Club Brugge
Manchester United would have been happy with their result in the first leg of their fixture against Club Brugge. The Red Devils were able to take a point from the game in Flanders, as Anthony Martial pounced on a mistake by the Brugge defence. The hosts had taken the lead earlier in the first half when Dennis scored. The striker has now scored against both Manchester United and Real Madrid in Europe this season.
However, United will have the advantage as the tie returns to Old Trafford next week. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may have felt that his side should have taken the win on the evening as they did produce some good openings in the final stages. Bruno Fernandes was brought on with 15 minutes remaining, and the Portuguese created some glorious openings, but United were unable to take any of them. Time will tell whether they will regret those missed opportunities.
Some experts were shocked that United made so many changes for this fixture following their impressive win against Chelsea, but Solskjaer will likely recall a host of stars for the second leg as a win is essential for Manchester United.
FC Porto vs Bayer Leverkusen
FC Porto would have also been quietly confident after their result in their opening leg. The Portuguese side were beaten 2-1 in Germany by Bayer Leverkusen, but that away goal from Luis Diaz makes things very interesting as the tie moves back to Porto. The visitors were extremely fortunate that the damage wasn’t more severe as the hosts dominated the play.
Bayer had 66% of the possession on the evening, and had 19 shots, with seven of those on target. They may regret not being more clinical in front of goal as the atmosphere at the Estadio do Dragao is likely to be intense. Leverkusen’s young players once again flourished on the big stage, as Kai Havertz once again caught the eye.
The German had a hand in the opening goal for Lucas Alario after 30 minutes, before he scored the second goal of the game himself from the penalty spot before the hour mark. Havertz is one of the most talked-about players in Europe, and after the way that he dominated the ball in this fixture, it isn’t hard to see anything other than a bright future.
The second leg will be an intriguing fixture, and it could easily go either way. However, the preference would be for the young and vibrant Leverkusen to get the result they need against the ageing Porto side. There should be goals in the game, which means the over market could be lucrative.