Christian Eriksen explains why Man United must win their Europa League group

Manchester United are back in Europa League action this week as they welcome FC Sheriff to Old Trafford, with Erik ten Hag’s men eyeing top spot in their group after three consecutive wins.

United currently trail group leaders Real Sociedad by three points and if both teams win their games on Thursday, the final game in Spain will decide who ends the group phase at the summit.

Head-to-head records are prioritised over goal difference in UEFA competitions and that means that United will need to win by two goals against Real Sociedad next week to finish top – unless they greatly improve their goal difference against Sheriff and win by one goal against La Real.

Christian Eriksen, who has been one of United’s standout performers this season, has now explained the importance of finishing first in the group.

“Firstly we want to qualify, and then get through preferably as number one in the group without the play-off games [that second-placed teams will have],” he is quoted as saying by the official Manchester United website.

“In the [Premier] League, we want to be as high as possible before we have the World Cup and we want to go through in the [Carabao] Cup so there are a lot of games we need to win.

“Everyone wants to play and be involved. And we know how many games there are, so everyone will get their opportunities to show they want to play.

“It’s just about taking the chances when you can and if you play well, I’m sure, under this manager, then you will play more.”

As opposed to the last time United were in this competition, both qualifying teams out of the groups will not enter the knockout phase at the same stage.

Group winners will immediately qualify for the round of 16 whilst runner-ups will need to play a play-off tie against teams who drop down from the Champions League.

SN’s verdict…
The fixture list is already alarmingly congested and with the upcoming World Cup breaking the campaign into two, it’s absolutely paramount that United avoid an extra two games in their schedule.

In addition to all tournaments United are competing in, they have two postponed Premier League games against Leeds and Crystal Palace that need to be played as well.

Erik ten Hag has a large squad to choose from but he’s short of options in certain positions and he would not want to stretch the roster too much.

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