Sheriff Tiraspol could not have prepared better for their first meeting with three-time European champions Manchester United than winning their last three games ‘to nil’. All three games, including the 3-0 UEFA Europa League (UEL) win over Omonia Nicosia, were won after a 1-0 interval lead, so the Tiraspol side will be looking for another strong start.
That would give them a chance to go five home games without defeat (W3, D1). With all four of those games ending with less than three goals, the opening goal could determine the outcome of this one. That was the case in their only meeting with an English team, when Sheriff trailed 1-0 at halftime in a 2-0 loss to Tottenham Hotspur in 2013.
Despite their opening 1-0 loss in the UEL to Real Sociedad, ManUnited are clear favourites to win, having won their four games prior to that defeat, two of them with a clean sheet. They have not played since that defeat following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, so they have had plenty of time to analyse what went wrong and figure out how to compete in Europe this season.
This will be a new experience, however, as neither Man United nor coach Erik ten Hag have played a Moldovan club before. They can be helped by midfielders Christian Eriksen, who scored against Sheriff both away and at home with Tottenham in 2013, and Casemiro, who was part of the Real Madrid side that won 3-0 here last season after beating Sheriff 2-1 at home.
Players to watch: Sheriff’s Iyayi Atiemwen has scored three of his last five goals, while Man United’s Jadon Sancho has also scored in two of the last five games, both times inside the first 25 minutes.
Lucky streak: Man United have scored one or two goals in each of their last eight European games on foreign soil (W3, D2, L3).
Our Pick: Team 2 to win and Total > 1.5 – Yes
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