Football Article

'Huge Strides': Martial Looms As United's Europa X-Factor

'Huge Strides': Martial Looms As United's Europa X-Factor Photo: TT
Anthony Martial

Anthony Martial looms as Manchester United’s X-factor ahead of the Europa League quarter-finals with the Red Devils taking on FC Copenhagen in Germany on Monday night.

The 2019-20 Europa League quarter-finals, semi-finals and final will take place entirely in Germany’s west with one-legged matches, commencing on Monday with Manchester United in action in Cologne as one of the main favourites to lift the trophy.

The Red Devils along with Italian Serie A runners-up Inter Milan are the odds-on favourites, while former winners Shakhtar Donetsk and Sevilla loom large.

United subsequently are clear favourites against Copenhagen, who finished as runners-up in the 2019-20 Danish Superliga but have enjoyed a strong European run, including knocking out Turkish champions Istanbul Basaksehir and Scottish champs Celtic.

Ole Gunnar Solskaer’s side will be without Phil Jones and Luke Shaw due to injury, with the pair not part of the travelling party to Germany.

Martial looms as a key part of Solskjaer’s plans, having overcome injury to be United’s top scorer with 23 goals this season.

“Anto has made huge strides this season in many aspects of his game,” Solskjaer said.

“Of course, I like him scoring between the posts, scoring simple goals, because we know he can score worldies.

“He’s physically at his best in his career. We’re looking forward to seeing him improving, more to come.”

Bruno Fernandes’ January signing and Paul Pogba’s return from injury have also boosted United’s stocks, with the Red Devils finishing the Premier League excellently to claim third spot.

“We’re delighted that he’s back playing. He’s fit, he’s enjoying his football, Solskjaer said.

“Of course, he’s got to make up for lost time, and he’s trying to do that.

“He’s training extra, he’s always a great personality in and around the place, and hopefully we can see him lift this trophy.”

Inter Milan takes on Bayer Leverkusen in the other quarter-final on Monday in Dusseldorf, not far from Die Werkself’s home base.

Ben somerford
Sports Pundit staff writer @bensomerford
Australian journalist who specialises on all sports, focusing on football, tennis, basketball and racing, having written for global publications including FourFourTwo, AAP, Inside Futbol and many more....

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