Manchester United face the prospect of toiling in the heat against Sevilla in their Europa League semi-final with the weather forecast set to test the Red Devils. That is the view of former Arsenal and England midfielder Paul Merson.
It is forecast to be around 26C when the two teams walk onto the pitch at the RheinEnergieStadion in Cologne on Sunday.
Against Copenhagen on Monday, United looked leggy at times and Bruno Fernandes was struggling with cramp at the end of their extra-time win.
And Merson feels United could struggle with Sevilla if the Spanish side dominate possession and force them to chase after the ball.
“United could still win the Europa League this season but they have a really tough game against Sevilla,” Merson said in his Daily Star column.
“Who’s favourite depends on the weather because Sevilla keep the ball better than United. They are very patient. It’s never rushed, and they don’t panic.
“United are going to be ‘Bang, bang, bang’, counter-attacking with pace. But if they start chasing the ball around and it’s hot, it will take its toll.”
Merson also expressed his concern for City ahead of their Champions League quarter-final with Lyon on Saturday.
City are the favourites going into the match but Lyon beat Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus in the previous round.
And Merson feels keeping concentration will be crucial for Pep Guardiola’s men.
He added: “Playing all these ties as one game instead of over two legs means there’s no margin for error as well.
“That might be more of a problem for Manchester City in the Champions League because they have these 20-minute spells where they switch off.
“Over two legs you can manage that and recover. But you can’t get away with it in a one-off game.
“They should beat Lyon unless it becomes like the Southampton game where they had all those shots and lost. But against Bayern Munich it could be a problem.
“City are weak at the back compared to Bayern, who are strong everywhere and the form team. They are like a machine.
“United and City are probably slight favourites to win the two competitions. But they could easily both end up empty-handed.”
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