Manchester United may not be pulling up trees in the Premier League, but they are doing just fine in the Europa League. As one of the biggest clubs in the world, United may not have fancied playing in the competition, but they are now just three games away from winning it.
Jose Mourinho does not like playing in the Europa League, but even he will acknowledge the importance of winning the competition this season. United will face stiff competition to finish in the top four of the Premier League, but they have a good chance of qualifying for the 2017-18 Champions League campaign through the Europa League.
United will take on Spanish club Celta de Vigo in the semi-finals. The first leg of the tie will be held at the Estadio Municipal de Balaidos on May 4, with the second leg to be held at Old Trafford seven days later.
United will head into the tie as favourites and, according to odds on 888sport, they are only 9/10 to win the Europa League. The Old Trafford faithful must be feeling confident of winning a European trophy again.
United have a better team than Celta. In fact, among the four sides left in the Europa League this season, United have the best squad. Even with the long-term injury suffered by star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mourinho’s side have enough quality in their squad to get the better of Celta quite comfortably.
While United should certainly feel optimistic about their chances, it would be a mistake to become complacent. Celta are not a fancy club in Spain and may not even end up in the top ten of the league table, but they should be shown respect for getting this far in the Europa League.
Iago Aspas may have struggled at Liverpool, but the Spain international striker will be an important player for Celta against United. The 29-year-old has scored 16 goals in La Liga and five in the Europa League so far this season.
With a strong crowd behind them, United should be able to win the second leg at Old Trafford with ease. What United cannot afford to do is get on the back foot in the first leg in Galicia. Mourinho’s players will be loath to concede an early goal in Spain, as that will only increase the confidence among the home team. A 2-1 win for the Premier League giants in the first leg and a 2-0 victory at Old Trafford is very much possible.