Athletic Bilbao v Man Utd, Thurs 18:00
Many would have made the suggestion that Athletic Bilbao were capable of a win at Old Trafford last week at long odds with Paddy Power but jaws were dropping nonetheless when Manchester United threw away their lead and succumbed to the Spanish side.
The fixture was greatly anticipated as a promising fixture with Marcelo Bielsa furthering the Bilbao progress since taking over as manager of the club in 2011.
Bilbao were two goals to the good in the final minutes with the scores poised at 3-1, however United managed to pull a vital goal back in the dying seconds to finish the game 3-2.
Scoring three goals at the Theatre of Dreams is never an easy feat but Los Leones did so in deserved fashion, furthering the European woes of Manchester United.
Fernando Llorente, Iker Muniain and Oscar de Marcos were the heroes on the day, finishing two well crafted goals and a slightly scrappier third.
Sir Alex Ferguson called upon his team to end their complacency previous to the defeat but the rallying of the troops appears to have gone unheard and turning the deficit around could prove tricky.
Bilbao have looked impressive when going forward this season, scoring an average of two goals per game when performing at home.
Form would suggest that a side capable of netting three at a venue like Old Trafford would certainly be capable of replicating that scoring performance at home and the United defence could be in for another torrid test.
One statistic the English club will hang on to however, is that Bilbao currently sit ninth in terms of home defence in the Spanish top flight, failing to keep clean sheets in 31% of their games.
The hosts fell out of the Primera Division’s top four over the weekend after losing at Osasuna and could have lower morale than their visitors after the Red Devils won 2-0 against West Brom.
Utd could be boosted by the return of winger Antonio Valencia, who is now back to full fitness after a hamstring injury, while Dimitar Berbatov is once again expected for a stint on the bench, as Ferguson decides between Javier Hernandez, Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney to lead the line.
Midfielder Anderson is out indefinitely with a hamstring injury, while Phil Jones has the flu and will also miss the trip.
Ferguson now sees his team sit atop the Premier League after Manchester City slipped up at Swansea City, and although Europa League progression would make this a very successful week, Bilbao’s three away goals could prove very difficult to overturn.