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12th Dec 2016

Here’s why Man Utd will be playing a Europa League game on a Champions League night

Change of plan.

Tom Victor

Just when Manchester United supporters had got used to playing games on Thursday nights, UEFA have gone and confused them.

United have played 10 times on a Thursday since dropping out of last season’s Champions League – two two-legged Europa League ties against Midtjylland and Liverpool, plus six group games in this season’s competition.

This season José Mourinho’s team have been drawn against Saint-Étienne in the last 32, and the second leg of the tie will be played on a Wednesday, not a Thursday.

Cue plenty of Champions League jokes…

So, the reason for the switch? It’s not quite as glamorous as you might have hoped.

The game, at Saint-Étienne’s Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, has been rescheduled to avoid a clash with a Europa league tie in nearby Lyon. One of the games had to be moved, and it ended up being the United one.

Incidentally, Lyon’s match is against AZ Alkmaar, a club formerly managed by none other than Louis van Gaal.

Fresh from seeing the Dutchman lead United to the fifth-place finish that guaranteed Europa League football to begin with, they’ve seen their schedules ruined by LVG once more.

The first leg of the tie will still be played on a Thursday night, on February 16.