Paris - Fresh from giving his players a rollicking Jose
Mourinho's focus turns from Manchester United's derby defeat to European action
with a tricky Europa League opener at in-form Feyenoord on Thursday.
It will be the Portuguese manager's first game in the
second-tier European competition since winning its predecessor the UEFA Cup
with Porto in 2003 and he says he is taking it seriously.
Mourinho's unbeaten start as United manager came to a
stuttering stop Saturday as long-time nemesis Pep Guardiola's Manchester City
left Old Trafford with a 2-1 victory.
United can expect a tough Group A opener at Feyenoord, who
are top of the Dutch league having won all five of their matches this season
and have pedigree in the competition.
United's Spanish attacking midfielder Juan Mata warned that
after the disappointment of derby day there was "no time for
"On Thursday we're going to play the first game in the
Europa League, away against Feyenoord, a classic in European football,"
Mata said on his weekly blog.
"It's going to be a very demanding debut in this
competition," he added of the road to the final in Stockholm next May.
Mourinho says that young attacking sensation Marcus Rashford
will play after his impressive second-half cameo along with midfielder Ander
Herrera on Saturday.
Also read: Mourinho points finger after Man Utd derby loss
"He (Rashford) is going to play is the only thing I can
say. I trust him completely and I know his future will be absolutely
brilliant," said the Portuguese, who was scathing of some of his players
after the City defeat, particularly defender Eric Bailly.
English-Dutch clashes are always feisty affairs but United
have beaten Feyenoord in both their previous meetings.
This time it will be more subdued -- at least in the stands
-- with the capacity of the De Kuip stadium in Rotterdam halved to 26,000
following UEFA sanctions for crowd trouble against Roma earlier this year.
United fans, whose ticket allocation has been slashed to
1,400, have been advised by the club not to wear United colours and avoid areas
of potential conflict.
Feyenoord manager Giovanni Van Bronckhorst said: "I'm
confident that -- in spite of the measures the club has to take -- an
atmosphere will be created again at De Kuip to ensure we, as a team, are able
to perform at our very best in our home matches."
Former United and Feyenoord striker Robin van Persie is set
to play both clubs as his Fenerbahce side are also in Group A with the Turkish
side taking on Zorya Luhansk of Ukraine in their opener.
Van Persie won the competition with boyhood club Feyenoord
- Spanish domination -
Spanish clubs have won six of the last 10 Europa League
titles with Sevilla, the reigning three-time champions, now playing in the
elite Champions League.
Of the finalists in the Europa League over the last decade
eight are from Spain, who this season will be represented by Athletic Bilbao,
Celta Vigo and Villarreal.
Celta, struggling from five successive La Liga losses,
travel to Standard Liege in Group G, which also includes Dutch giants Ajax and
Greek club Panathinaikos.
Athletic Bilbao travel to Italian side Sassuolo in Group F,
which includes Rapid Vienna of Austria and Belgium side KRC Genk. Villarreal
host FC Zurich in Group L.
England's second representative, Southampton, host Czech
club Sparta Prague in Group K looking for their first win under new boss Claude
Puel, with Inter Milan, three times winners, hosting Israeli club Hapoel Be'er
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