Marcel Sabitzer is set to miss Manchester United’s crucial Europa League play-off tie against Barcelona… but why will the midfielder not be involved? And who will play in his absence?
- Marcel Sabitzer is expected to miss Man United’s clash with Barcelona tonight
- United have been in good form of late and are coming off a win against Leeds
- As for Barcelona, Xavi’s La Liga leaders defeated Villarreal in their last game
Manchester United will travel to Spain to face Barcelona in the play-off round of the Europa League – but they will be without key midfielder Marcel Sabitzer.
Erik ten Hag’s men are hoping to make it through to the last-16 stage of the competition, and a strong result in Thursday’s first leg would boost their chances of doing so.
The English side have been in fine form of late, avoiding defeat in their last six games, and are coming off a win against Leeds – with Marcus Rashford and Alejandro Garnacho scoring in a 2-0 victory for the Red Devils.
As for Barcelona, they will be itching to go all the way after their disappointment in the Champions League. Xavi’s side were knocked out of Europe’s biggest club competition after finishing third behind Bayern Munich and Inter Milan in Group C.
Despite their poor run in Europe, the Spanish giants have been in excellent form and are unbeaten in their last 11 games.
Manchester United will be without Marcel Sabitzer (pictured) when they go away to Barcelona
Erik ten Hag has been left with a selection dilemma in Sabitzer’s absence on Thursday night
Barca ran out 1-0 winners in their most recent outing at Villarreal after midfielder Pedri fired home the only goal of the game.
United are coming up against a team brimming with confidence, and losing Sabitzer will only make their task a trickier one in Spain.
So why is he unavailable tonight? And who could replace him in midfield? Sportsmail has taken a closer look.
Why is Sabitzer unavailable to face Barcelona?
Despite their strong run of recent form, United are without a few key players heading into Thursday’s clash with Barcelona.
Anthony Martial, Antony and Scott McTominay were all absent from United’s first-team training on Wednesday morning and will miss tonight’s fixture through injury.
Defender Lisandro Martinez will also miss the game due to suspension.
The same applies to Sabitzer, with the midfielder ruled out of the first leg due to suspension.
Even though the Austrian international joined in the winter window and is yet to make an appearance in Europe for United, Sabitzer picked up the suspension during his spell at Bayern Munich.
He played in all six of Bayern’s group stage games in the Champions League.
The Austrian international has featured regularly since his arrival from Bayern Munich
Sabitzer picked up three yellow cards for Munich in the Champions League earlier this season
In that time, he picked up three yellow cards against Barcelona, Inter Milan and Viktoria Plzen.
Due to UEFA rules, Sabitzer must now miss United’s clash with Barcelona after picking up too many yellow cards for the German club.
Per UEFA’s official website on yellow and red cards, article 52.03 reads: ‘Single yellow cards and pending suspensions are always carried forward either to the next stage of the competition, to the UEFA Europa League or to the UEFA Europa Conference League in the current season.’
Can he play in the second leg?
When they visit the Nou Camp for the first leg this evening, United will be hoping to make life easier for themselves in the second with a good result away from home.
The second leg is due to take place on Thursday, February 23, at Old Trafford – with the game getting underway at 8pm.
Thankfully for United fans, Sabitzer will be available for the decider as he is only set to serve a one match ban.
Brazilian midfielder Casemiro is likely to feature for Manchester United in Sabitzer’s absence
It looks likely that Fred will partner Casemiro in this evening’s clash at the Nou Camp
Who will play in midfield for United?
With Sabizter out of the showdown with Barcelona, Ten Hag has a dilemma on his hands in midfield.
Christian Eriksen remains unavailable after being ruled out until April with an ankle injury sustained in January.
Scott McTominay will also miss Thursday’s game due to injury.
In the pair’s absence, it looks likely that Casemiro and Fred will feature in midfield for United – with Bruno Fernandes playing slightly forward.
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