Manchester United’s Europa League campaign continues with a 4,000-mile trip to Cyprus for Thursday night’s encounter against Omonia Nicosia in Group E.
British football fans may know little about United’s opponents, but they will certainly recognise the manager in their dugout, with former Celtic, Bolton and Hibernian boss Neil Lennon in charge of the Cypriot side.
Lennon has been at Omonia since March, and by winning the Cypriot Cup they entered the Europa League play-off round, where they beat Gent to reach the groups.
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Facing United on Thursday and in next week’s reverse fixture at Old Trafford will add another chapter to Omonia’s European history.
Omonia played both Bayern Munich and Juventus in the European Cup back in the 1970s, while against English opposition, they lost 6-1 on aggregate to Arsenal in the 1994-95 European Cup Winners’ Cup qualifiers, and more recently were beaten 4-2 on aggregate by Manchester City in the 2008-09 UEFA Cup first round.
They have started Group E with defeats to Real Sociedad and Sheriff Tiraspol, meaning even a point against United would likely go down as a success.
When is Omonia v Man Utd?
The Europa League Group E match between Omonia and Manchester United kicks off at 5.45pm on Thursday, October 6.
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Can Man Utd bounce back?
Sunday’s 6-3 derby defeat to Manchester City has put United back a few steps but in a packed October they can ill-afford to linger on that hammering.
With a trip to Everton to come on Sunday, it will be intriguing to see how strong head coach Erik ten Hag goes against Omonia, a side they should beat without too much trouble.
Ten Hag may be tempted to rotate, particularly with matches against Tottenham and Chelsea to come in October too, although he will be wary of how damaging a slip-up in Cyprus could be.
Over the course of this next week, United have an opportunity to take six points against Omonia and perhaps make qualification for the Europa League knockouts one less worry, although it will be their final two matches against Real Sociedad and Sheriff that properly dictate where they end up in Group E.
For Omonia, it may well feel like a free shot, and having only lost narrowly away to Real Sociedad last month, going down 2-1 after an 80th-minute winner from Alexander Sorloth, they may fancy their chances of a famous point – or who knows, perhaps even all three.
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