Zorya vs Manchester United – Thursday 18:00 GMT/19:00 CET at Stadion Chornomorets – Odessa.
Zorya’s maiden Europa League group stage campaign is already more or less concluded, as the club, which is playing in Odessa due to the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, can no longer advance to the knockout stage of the competition.
On the other hand, hosting one of the biggest brands in European football on Thursday night will be a major milestone for Luhansk, as Stadion Chornomorets is expected to be filled to capacity with local supporters, Zorya fans travelling to the city, as well as many fans from England—who will be hopefully ignoring the travel advice by Manchester United that placed the away game in Luhansk.
With many English supporters traveling to the game, the hope is that there will not be a repeat of the crowd trouble that was experienced during Feyenoord’s visit to the city. The events at Euro 2016 demonstrated that English fans, not unlike Dutch fans, tend to be at the forefront whenever there is crowd trouble on the continent.
Potential fan trouble aside, the match promises to be an interesting encounter, as Manchester have to gain at least a point if they want to be assured a spot in the knockout stages of the competition. Zorya, meanwhile, are still without a victory in the group stage, but they demonstrated in Manchester that they are not pushovers.
Do not be surprised if Zorya head coach Yuri Vernydub choses a proactive approach to the match in order to go out of the competition with some style. The Ukrainians, who are currently third in the Ukrainian Premier League behind Shakhtar Donetsk, and Dynamo Kyiv, will want to use this season, as a learning experience, as they will likely be back in the competition next season.
Zorya vs Manchester United – Players to look out for:
Ivan Petryak is Zorya’s biggest talent. The young winger was sold to Shakhtar Donetsk in March 2016 for $2 million, but has remained at the club in a loan deal. Shakhtar hope that playing in the Europa League can give Petryak the necessary experience to enable him to shine for Shakhtar in the future. The 22-year-old is quick, and has the technical ability and tactical understanding to make the players around him better, and is another bright talent in Ukraine’s football.
Zorya vs Manchester United – Match Stats
- This is Zorya’s UEFA Europa League group stage debut.
- This is United’s first UEFA Cup or Europa League group stage campaign.
- The UEFA Cup/Europa League is the only major European trophy United has never won.
- The journey from Manchester to Odessa is 2,500 km.
- This is the first time Zorya host English opposition in a nominal home match.
- United are unbeaten in seven matches involving Ukrainian teams (W5 D2).
- Wayne Rooney’s strike against Feyenoord on matchday 5 moved him clear of Ruud van Nistelrooy as United’s all-time top scorer in UEFA competitions with 39 goals.
Futbolgrad’s Prediction: Zorya vs Manchester United 1-3
Zorya vs Manchester United – Possible Lineups
Shevchenko – Sukhotsky, Forster, Sivakov, Opanasenko – Chaykovsky, Lipartia – Petryak, Ljubenović, Karavaev – Paulinho
Manager: Yuri Vernydub
De Gea – Shaw, Rojo, Jones, Valencia – Herrera, Carrick – Martial, Rooney, Mkhitaryan – Ibrahimović
Manager: José Mourinho