Move over Sabitzer: MUFC could fill Bruno void with “surprising” £120k-p/w gem today

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The Europa League match between six-time champions Manchester United and Sevilla is this evening. The tie is very much in doubt before the quarterfinal, second-leg match at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium.

In actuality, the Red Devils may have appeared to have guaranteed passage in the opposing match at Old Trafford after sprinting into an early two-goal lead and having also wasted a few enticing opportunities to carry that advantage further.

As it turned out, Erik ten Hag’s team’s lack of a killer instinct cost them the game in more ways than one as they ended up conceding twice late on during a spectacular collapse at the end and lost first-choice center-back pairing Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane to injury.

The playmaking master Bruno Fernandes, 28, received a yellow card after being unfairly penalized for handball early in the first half, which was another disappointment from that agonizing first-leg match.

The former Sporting CP star, who has one goal and four assists in the competition this season, will be sidelined for tonight’s crucial match as a result of that inexplicable booking, leaving United without a player who has started 48 games across all competitions this season.

Against Sevilla, who could Fernandes be replaced by?

The most logical replacement for the 55-cap gem in that advanced midfield position would appear to be Marcel Sabitzer. The Austrian international turned in a ‘fine performance’ in that position in the first leg after scoring twice in the opening minutes, according to Manchester Evening News journalist Samuel Luckhurst.

The January addition, who had already made an impact against the La Liga team, was then ruled out of the weekend victory over Nottingham Forest after suffering an injury during the warm-up.

Ten Hag has a significant advantage over Sabitzer going into their matchup tonight because four injured stars have traveled to Seville, but it might be premature to throw the 29-year-old back into the fray.

As a result, the controversial midfielder Fred, who has made an impression against Spanish opposition earlier in the competition, might be called upon to fill that playmaking spot later on in the day.

The £120,000 per week machine provided Marcus Rashford with an assist in the 2-2 draw against Barcelona at Camp Nou before scoring himself in the second leg at the Theatre of Dreams with a superb touch and finish from just beyond the box.

The former Shakhtar Donetsk player has developed a habit of finding himself in and around the penalty area of the opposition this season. He has a decent total of 11 goal involvements across all competitions, demonstrating his ability to fuel the Carabao Cup winners’ offense when necessary.

Ralf Rangnick, the interim manager, noted that Fred’s ability at a more advanced position has demonstrated that he can do “a lot more than just defend.” The German coach also noted that the 30-year-old has “surprising elements” to his game that can help to break down an opponent’s defense.

The little “mosquito,” who Ten Hag earlier praised for his pestilential performance against La Blaugrana back in February, will also contribute to the club with his tireless work ethic. Rangnick once said of him that he “would give his last drop of blood for the team.”

A reliable asset like Fred might be just what United needs to help fill the gaping Fernandes deficit on a night when they may have to battle it out to defeat a team with real competition history.

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