There are two games to go until Manchester United reach the Europa League final, if we are so fortunate to win them.
And on the other side of the draw there are ties to be played too, yet you cannot help but feel as though Manchester United are on a collision course with Inter Milan.
United face FC Copenhagen in the quarter-finals. Then in the semi-finals we would play either Wolves or Sevilla. Both of those teams can pose us problems if we get to the last four, and have done so before.
On the other side, Inter are up against Bayer Leverkusen. And then Shakhtar Donetsk or Basel.
But make no mistake, United and Inter are the favourites, and there is a sense of inevitability that the battle for silverware may come down to a one-off game between the two teams.
Three ex-Red Devils
Romelu Lukaku’s £74 million exit was a big talking point early in the season as United struggled for goals while Anthony Martial is out injured.
Lukaku has netted 30 times in all competitions, while Martial has 23, Marcus Rashford 23, and Mason Greenwood has 17. All three have outscored Lukaku’s tally of 16 at United last season.
This is a deal which worked out for everybody, yet Lukaku will still feel as though he has a point to prove, having failed to win any silverware during his two-year stint at Old Trafford.
A match-up between Lukaku and Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire will be interesting, and may not be pleasant viewing. It is notable Luke Shaw is out injured, having seemingly taunted Lukaku after Inter were knocked out of the Champions League last December.
Lukaku will be joined by Alexis Sanchez, who is eligible to play in the remainder of the competition after his exit from United was confirmed.
Financially Sanchez’s sale was too good to turn down, but United would have really rather avoided this eventuality.
Sanchez scored against former club Arsenal in the FA Cup last year and has hit form for Inter. It feels inevitable that he would raise his game for a one-off game against United.
Both players will look back on their time at United with regret, and feel their reputations suffered as a result. Supporters who had high hopes for them look at both players as disappointments, and Lukaku and Sanchez will be eager to prove a point, to United’s management too.
The third former United player began the season as the Red Devils’ captain, Ashley Young.
Last summer most fans could not wait to see the back of Young, but to be fair, when he played during the 2019/20 season, he acquitted himself well, even if memories of his nightmare at the Nou Camp are still fairly fresh.
Young has risen to the challenge at Inter, establishing himself as a regular for Antonio Conte’s side. Having grown his hair, he even looks 10 years younger.
There is a lot of football to be played before we brace ourselves for a final. We may not get there, and nor might Inter.
This is tournament football and one-off games, and anything can happen. But if it is Inter v United, nobody will be surprised, and United’s players will need to match the motivation Lukaku and co will bring to the party.
- Smalling stance means Manchester United cannot complain about Sancho price
- Odion Ighalo needs better service – but United also need a new striker
- Eric Bailly’s defensive record deserves more credit
- Mason Greenwood must follow Wayne Rooney’s improvement to reach the top
- Four Manchester United players have proved a point to Solskjaer
- Nicolas Tagliafico the latest left-back linked to United
- Luton defender shares what it’s like trying to stop Marcus Rashford
- Manchester United fans react to Eric Bailly’s performance
- Solskjaer picks out three Manchester United players for praise