Chris Smalling admits Manchester United are looking to take advantage of FC Midtjylland’s lack of fitness in the Europa League.
The Danish side last played a competitive game on 10 December against Club Brugge and Smalling knows Man United’s busy schedule should give them an advantage over Jess Thorup’s team.
United’s 2-1 defeat to Sunderland in the Premier League has forced us to look at towards the Europa League for a potential chance to qualify for the Champions League next season, and Smalling believes Man United must win at the MCH Arena to lower the pressure against Shrewsbury.
Talking to ManUtd.com he said: “That will definitely be the plan, especially with us playing next Monday [at Shrewsbury] as well.
“It’s a massive week and ideally if we can do more than half the job in our first game then it will be a lot more comfortable come next Thursday in the second leg.
“Hopefully their rusty side is the one we can see come the end of the game and we can test their fitness levels in terms of their break.
“We know they’ll obviously be up for it as this is all they’ll have had their vision on for the last six or seven weeks, us being their next game, so we know we’ll have to play well to be on top.”
While their fitness over the full 90 minutes will be questionable, this is the biggest game in FC Midtjylland’s history so they will be absolutely fired up for it which the players have to be wary of.
That being said, United have more than enough to comfortably get past Midtjylland if they play smartly and disciplined. If they lose their heads and concede an early goal to a set piece which is their specialty, the dynamic of the game would change and our advantage would disappear.
Tonight is an unforgiving situation for United. Win and people will say of course we should have. Draw or lose and the pitchforks will be out again. It’s these banana skin fixtures which can really cause a season to fall apart and with United teetering on the edge of that already, the danger is even more apparent.