LUHANSK, Ukraine, Sporting Alert – The Europa League clash between Manchester United and Zorya Luhansk is set to go ahead despite concerns about the condition of the pitch.
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Cold temperatures left the pitch at Chornomorets Stadium frozen and patchy on Wednesday night and reports in England suggested that the contest was in serious doubt.
However, conditions are expected to improve before kick-off, with officials suggesting the temperature is estimated to rise above zero in Odessa.
“Everything depends on the weather, an official from Zorya said. “The pitch is not brilliant at the moment.
“We are expecting temperatures to be two or three degrees and everything should be okay.”
Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho was frustrated with the state of the pitch and questioned UEFA’s motives to allow games to be played at this time in countries with winter trouble.
“The pitch is very hard, the pitch is very icy,” the Portuguese manager said. “I think UEFA know the conditions of the pitch and everybody knows that in mid-December the conditions in Ukraine and Eastern Europe are more difficult.
“So if UEFA was worried about it, they should change the fixtures and not allow the last fixtures to be played in mid-December.
“If the fifth fixture is the last fixture here, it would be the end of November and not mid-December, so I think that’s the problem.
“I think the stadium is beautiful, it’s new, it’s well taken care of.
“The pitch is the same. They are trying, they are putting some warmth on the top of it, but the pitch is very difficult and people cannot make miracles. Let’s hope everything goes well.”
Manchester United only needs a point to advance from Group A and into the last 32.
The English Premier League outfits can also progress with a loss should Feyenoord fail to win their match against Fenerbahce.
Manchester United defeated Zorya 1-0 win at Old Trafford in the first meeting in the group.
United are without several players with Michael Carrick, Antonio Valencia, Matteo Darmian, Memphis Depay, Morgan Schneiderlin, Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw all missing.
Manchester United squad: De Gea, Romero, Johnstone, Fosu-Mensah, Jones, Bailly, Rojo, Blind, Young, Fellaini, Herrera, Pogba, Lingard, Mata, Mkhitaryan, Martial, Rashford, Rooney, Ibrahimovic.