Three reasons to watch Man Utd vs Real Betis in the Europa League - live on BT Sport!

Manchester United host Real Betis in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 clash looking to overcome Spanish opposition for a second time after defeating Barcelona in the play-off.

By Robert Cottingham Published: 1 March 2023 - 5.00pm
Casemiro and Nabil Fekir

Manchester United host Real Betis at Old Trafford hoping to overcome La Liga opponents once again in the Europa League.

Fresh from winning the Carabao Cup the mood is high around the Theatre of Dreams and after seeing off Barcelona Erik ten Hag will be hopeful of defeating Betis.

With a place in the quarter-finals of the competition up for grabs, here are three reasons to watch the first leg, live on BT Sport 2 and Ultimate on Thursday 9 March.

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Ten Hag's Reds acquiring a taste for silverware

Erik ten Hag's approval rating at Old Trafford is arguably the highest of any manager since Sir Alex Ferguson left after winning the Carabao Cup last week.

The success - clinched with a 2-0 Wembley win over Newcastle - ended Man United's six-year wait for a trophy having not won one since the 2017 Europa League under Jose Mourinho.

But just as when Mourinho's Chelsea won the League Cup in 2005, before clinching a first Premier League title, Ten Hag will be hoping it's the start of something bigger.

Man United lift the Carabao Cup
Man United won the first trophy since 2017 with the Carabao Cup last week.

With their eyes firmly set on the Champions League for next season, winning the Europa League would certainly get Man United in the mood for success in continental competition.

And after dispatching one of the strongest sides left in the draw - Barcelona - in the previous round, Man United will hope to advance past a team who are 19 points behind the Catalans in La Liga.

Real Betis' host of dangermen

Real Betis are not to be underestimated, however, despite sitting outside the Champions League qualification places in the Spanish top flight.

The Green-and-Whites boast some dangerous players across the side that many Premier League fans will recognise from their time in England.

Ex-Man City goalkeeper Claudio will start between the stick at the age of 39 while Ayoze Perez up top is on loan from Leicester and former Brighton defender Martin Montoya will be in contention to start.

Nabil Fekir
Nabil Fekir surprised many by moving to Real Betis in 2019.

In midfield, Portugal stalwart William Carvalho provides a solid base behind 41-year-old Betis legend Joaquin, ex-Real Madrid man Sergio Canales and top scorer Borja Iglesias in attack.

But it's a player who came so close to moving to the Premier League that could provide the killer edge for ex-Man City boss Manuel Pellegrini's side.

Nabil Fekir came close to joining Liverpool back in 2019 but surprised many by opting to move to Real Betis instead when the coveted Frenchman left his hometown club Lyon.

Now 29, the attacking midfielder has the technical quality to unlock Man United's defence at Old Trafford come Thursday night.

Can perennial Champions League winner Casemiro dominate Europa?

It was a transfer that raised eyebrows across Europe but Casemiro's £70million move, at the age of 30, from Real Madrid to Man United looks to have been a smart one.

The Brazilian has transformed Ten Hag's midfield, adding solidity and control while freeing up space for the forward players to shine.

Fresh from earning a spot in the FIFPRO World XI and scoring Man United's opener in the Carabao Cup final win over Newcastle, Casemiro's stock is growing and growing.

Casemiro was named in the FIFPRO World XI last week.

And with five Champions League trophies during his glittering spell at Real Madrid, Casemiro will feel more than adept at making his mark in Europe's secondary competition.

Likely to start alongside compatriot Fred or on-loan man Marcel Sabitzer, Ten Hag will look to his general do the enforcing against the Spanish visitors.