United and Inter need Europa boost

Manchester United and Inter will look to deflect attention from their domestic struggles as they look to progress to the next stage of the Europa League.

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford during training.   -  Reuters

Misfiring Manchester United and an Inter Milan which has fired coach Frank de Boer can take a welcome boost from the Europa League in matchday four of the group stage on Thursday.

The epic group stage of 12 round robin pools of four teams is remarkably close so far with only Zenit, Ajax, Shakhtar Donetsk and Schalke 04 eyeing qualification for the knock out round with Thursday wins.

Much has been made of United's 37 shots without a goal against Burnley at the weekend, the failure to hit the ground running of 89 million pound signing Paul Pogba and the sorrowful sight of Zlatan Ibrahimovic shorn of his confidence.

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United takes on Turkish side Fenerbahce having thumped it 4-1 last time out as Pogba scored twice ahead of a derby boost with a 1-0 League Cup win over Man City.

"Two days ago he was the worst player in the Premier League and 48 hours later he's phenomenal," said manager Jose Mourinho at the time of the French midfielder, who is struggling to live up to his price tag.

Feyenoord and United are level top of Group A on six points while the Turks, led by Dick Advocaat and featuring Robin Van Persie who scored at Old Trafford two weeks ago, has four points.

Defender Marcos Rojo felt the Burnley game could be seen as a positive.

"Obviously, against City, we got the victory, and the last match, versus Burnley, we had 37 chances. A goal would have been the icing on the cake," he said. "We are getting to the level where we can play as a team. We are playing with a great intensity, throughout the whole of the match."

Rojo is set to start and with fellow defenders Eric Bailly and Antonio Valencia injured, German veteran midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger has made a shock return to first team training.

Inter Milan beat Southampton 1-0 away last time out but had been a disaster up to that point and on Wednesday it sacked De Boer. The first-team squad will be taken over provisionally by youth team coach, Stefano Vecchi, who will be on the bench for the game against Southampton.

It sits bottom of Group K behind leader Sparta Prague and the Israeli side Hapoel Be'er Sheva, which stunned Inter 2-0 at the San Siro.

All this bodes well for Southampton, level second in the group on four points. Claude Puel's side was well beaten by resurgent Chelsea at the weekend but the Saints earned a deserved 1-1 draw with Manchester City the week before.

In Group E Roma blew a two-goal lead and ended up drawing 3-3 at the Stadio Olimpico to Austria Vienna last time out. It drew 0-0 at the weekend at Empoli, but even though it is second in Serie A it will do well to gain revenge when it travels to Vienna on Thursday. The Austrian side is on something of a roll having beaten league leader Sturm Graz and city rival Rapid in its last two league outings.

Villarreal remains unbeaten in Group L but only after battling back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Osmanlispor in Turkey. It now hosts the Turks after giving up two goals in the last ten minutes in a 2-1 defeat to Eibar in La Liga on Sunday having rested and subbed several top players.

Schalke 04 has a perfect record so far in Europe but has struggled badly in the Bundesliga, where it sits two points above relegation, albeit drawing 0-0 at Dortmund at the weekend.

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