Michael Owen has explained why Jose Mourinho will be delighted with drawing Sevilla in the Champions League, insisting that the La Liga are not the side they once were under Unai Emery.
Manchester United avoided drawing the likes of Juventus, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid and will instead play Sevilla – currently fifth in the table – in a competitive game for the first time in February.
They made light work of their Champions League group, winning five of their six games, while Sevilla were the only side to make it through to the knockouts without reaching ten points.
And Owen, speaking soon after the draw was made on Monday morning, noted that Man United should expect to make the quarter finals.
“I think tactically he [Jose Mourinho] is one to know how to get through,” he said. “I think this is a really good draw.”
“I’m convinced Sevilla are half the team they were a few years ago. Liverpool dominated both ties [in this season’s group phase] but somehow didn’t win. It’ a great draw.
“I don’t think Mourinho will even have to be on top of his game to get through. I expect them [Manchester United] to go through.”
Eduardo Berizzo knows all about Mourinho after coming a whisker away from knocking the latter out of the Europa League with Celta Vigo last season and supporters, in turn, should know what to expect from the his Sevilla side.
They will want to move the ball through the phases quickly and commit men forward through the centre, placing pressure on Nemanja Matic and Co by getting in behind the midfield.
And Mourinho is likely to call on last season’s strategy of stopping the Spaniards from having too much time on the ball and pressing them hard from start to finish as a means of puncturing their momentum. As Liverpool demonstrated in emphatic fashion last month, Sevilla can punish you if they get too much time to work the ball through the lines.