Roberto Firmino Chris Smalling Liverpool Manchester United
Manchester United beat Liverpool in both their Premier League games this seasonReuters

It is hard to believe that Liverpool and Manchester United, two of the giants of the English game, have never met before in Europe. So, when these two exalted teams finally clash in Europe, when the two sides meet in a two-legged last 16 tie in the Europa League, you just do not know what to expect.

Manchester United might have overtaken Liverpool as the biggest club in England, but, despite not winning a single title in the Premier League era, this match between the two sides remains the biggest for each team.

When Liverpool and Manchester United play each other, the volume gets turned up a little bit more, the tackles are a little fiercer, the goals mean a whole lot more. Those goals in the first leg at Anfield will be absolutely key in deciding who goes through to the quarterfinals of the Europa League.

Both Manchester United and Liverpool are taking this competition seriously, considering neither of them look likely to seal a Champions League spot via their league positions. Only three points separate Manchester United and Liverpool in the Premier League table at the moment, but United, who are sixth, a position ahead of Liverpool, are a further three points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester City, who have the luxury of a game in hand.

The Europa League winners will go into the Champions League for next season, and it is that carrot that both these teams want to take a bite of.

Manchester United will start as the favourites to win this tie, purely because of the fact that Louis Van Gaal has had Liverpool's number ever since taking over at Old Trafford. In the two games this season, Manchester United ended up on the winning side on both occasions. First, a 3-1 victory at Old Trafford, and then a 1-0 win at Anfield.

If Manchester United manage to come away from the first leg with a 1-0 lead, they will be more than happy, but Van Gaal's men will be up against a Liverpool side in decent form, while United are coming off a defeat to West Brom, albeit after a going through a good run themselves.

The 3-0 win over Manchester City would have given Jurgen Klopp's quite a bit of confidence, but the deciding factor will be which team handles the big-game pressure. Liverpool did not do that too well in the Capital One Cup final ten days ago, and if they end up conceding an away goal or two to Manchester United, they might leave themselves with too much to do in the second leg.

Europa League last 16 first leg schedule: Liverpool vs Manchester United.

Date: Thursday, March 10.

Time: 8.05 pm GMT (3.05 pm ET, 1.35 am IST).

Venue: Anfield.

TV listings: India: Ten Action and Ten HD. UK: BT Sport Europe and BT Sport Ultra HD. USA: Fox Sports 2 and ESPN3. Canada: RDS and TSN. Middle East, North Africa, Australia, France, Spain, Indonesia and Thailand: Bein Sports. China and Hong Kong: PPTV and LeTV. Singapore and Malaysia: Eurosport Asia. South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa: SuperSport 3.