Manchester United vs Rostov Info

Time: 
1 p.m. EST

TV Channel: Fox Sports 2

Live Stream: Fox Sports Go, Fox Soccer 2Go

Preview: Jose Mourinho said Wednesday that Manchester United could decide to prioritize the Europa League — if the team makes it past Russian side FC Rostov and progresses into the quarterfinals of the competition. The Premier League club is currently in Russia preparing for Thursday’s first leg of its last-16 matchup.

Mourinho’s men are heavy favorites to lift the trophy in May. And, with Manchester United currently in sixth place in the Premier League and facing a fierce battle to make it into the top four at the end of the season, the Champions League place on offer for winning the Europa League could become increasingly enticing.

Mourinho, though, has stressed he won’t be re-evaluating his team’s priorities this season just yet.

“The Europa League is very difficult but it’s a target for us and if we beat Rostov and we find ourselves in the quarterfinal, then we have to think really seriously about the Europa League because in this moment we are still in the last 16,” he said at his pre-match press conference.

“[With] the last 16 we are still far [away from the final] but when a team gets into the last eight, and you go to the quarter-final draw, you smell the final. The quarterfinal — you smell the final and then in a certain period of the season I have to analyze my team, the players, the condition of everyone and I have to make choices. I have to make choices but choices that I would always share with my owners, with my board.”

Much of Mourinho’s focus since arriving in Russia has been on the poor state of the pitch at the Olimp-2 Stadium in the port city of Rostov-on-Don.

“It’s still hard for me to believe that we are going to play tomorrow,” he told reporters. “I know we have to but it’s hard for me to believe we are going to play on that field, if you can call it a field.”

Because of the pitch, Mourinho said he doesn’t yet know what team he is going to play. He hinted particular attention would be given to Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is expected to start after being given a three-match domestic suspension for elbowing Bournemouth’s Tyrone Mings in a 1-1 draw Saturday.

While Manchester United recorded a disappointing result during the weekend, Rostov produced an emphatic 6-0 away win over Tom Tomsk as the Russian Premier League resumed.

Prediction: It is unlikely to be a comfortable night for Manchester United. The pitch should present its own problems while Rostov has lost just once in its last 32 home matches. If Mourinho can come away from Russia with a draw, he is unlikely to be too disappointed.

Predicted Score: FC Rostov 1-1 Manchester United