Man United to Face Zorya Luhansk on Rock-like Icy Pitch

تم نشره في Thu 8 December / Dec 2016. 06:28 PM
  • Ground staff worked on the Chornomorets Stadium pitch on Wednesday - (Reuters)

Jose Mourinho says Manchester United's Europa League game at Zorya Luhansk should have been played earlier in the competition because of a pitch now described as "like a rock".

Manchester United have to avoid defeat in Ukraine to progress to the last 32.

The match is set to go ahead following a pitch inspection at the Chornomorets Stadium on Thursday morning.

"The pitch is very hard, the pitch is very icy," United boss Mourinho said after his players trained on Wednesday.

"They are putting warmth on the top of it, but the pitch is very difficult and people cannot make miracles. Let's hope everything goes well."

Even if they lose, Mourinho's side will go through if Feyenoord fail to beat group leaders Fenerbahce in the other Group A game. Zorya have already been eliminated.

United, second in Group A, hold a two-point advantage over third-placed Feyenoord going into the final game, but a draw would be enough even if the Dutch side win because United have a superior head-to-head record.

Defender Daley Blind describing the pitch as being "like a rock" after the Premier League side trained at the Chornomorets Stadium on Wednesday.

Temperatures are expected to be around 1C in Odessa when the match kicks off at 20:00 local time (18:00 GMT).

"I think Uefa know the conditions of the pitch and everybody knows that in mid-December the conditions in Ukraine and Eastern Europe are more difficult," said Mourinho.

"So if Uefa was worried about it, they should change the fixtures and not allow the last fixtures to be played there in mid-December."

Team news

Memphis Depay and Morgan Schneiderlin have been overlooked for Manchester United's trip to Ukraine.

Forward Depay has played in eight games under Mourinho, with the last of those against Feyenoord on 24 November.

Midfielder Schneiderlin has also made eight appearances, with most of those from the bench.

Depay and Schneiderlin have both been linked with January moves away from Old Trafford.

Meanwhile, midfielder Michael Carrick and full-backs Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian - who all started Sunday's 1-1 draw at Everton - have been left at home.

Captain Wayne Rooney has travelled after returning from suspension while defender Eric Bailly, an unused substitute at Goodison Park on Sunday, is also in the squad having recovered from a knee injury.

Uefa has allayed fears about security despite recent attacks on travelling fans in Ukraine.

Around 900 supporters are expected to make the trip to Odessa and have been warned by United about the threat of attacks.

However, a statement from European football's governing body read: "We are confident that the host club together with the local authorities will take all necessary measures to ensure the safety and security of the players, the match officials and the supporters of the two teams."