Manchester United face a key clash against AC Milan on Thursday night as they aim to reach the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals.
The two teams are level-pegging ahead of their meeting at the San Siro, with Amad Diallo and Simon Kjaer both having found the net in the 1-1 draw at Old Trafford.
However, the Red Devils face a completely different prospect in Italy, with former United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic set to return to action having missed the first-leg with a thigh injury.
United defender Harry Maguire, then, will have to be on top form to keep the Swede quiet.
Ibrahimovic has been exhilarating for the Rossoneri this season, bagging 14 goals in as many Serie A appearances. That form and influence has seen him afforded plenty of praise, with Roberto Mancini labelling the former PSG man as “one of the greatest”.
One specific department where he has thrived this season though has predictably been in the air. Three of his goals this season have been headers.
This, of course, echoes back to his time at Old Trafford, with the striker scoring seven times with his head.
In all competitions throughout 2020/21, the 39-year-old has won 4.7 aerial duels per game, according to WhoScored. Whether that has been bringing other players into play or indeed putting the ball in the net, the striker’s aerial ability has been a potent weapon for Stefano Pioli’s men.
Milan will surely be aiming to utilise that against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Red Devils.
This is where Maguire comes in. The former Leicester City defender has been the club’s most aerially dominant figure this season, winning 3.9 aerial duels per game.
Directly up against Ibrahimovic, it could be suggested that the game could hinge on the battle in the air between Maguire and the striker.
If the Red Devils skipper can come out on to,p then there is no reason why United couldn’t find a way through to the quarter-finals of the Europa League at the expense of AC Milan and former hero Ibrahimovic.