Manchester United begin their Europa League quarter-final tie with a trip to Belgium to take on Anderlecht in the first-leg of the club’s upcoming quarter-final tie. Jose Mourinho’s side are the only English side left in the competition after Spurs were knocked out by Gent in the last round.
The Red Devils are by far the biggest club in the quarter-finals and Mourinho will have his eyes on the trophy as they advance into the latter stages. With United currently chasing a top-four spot, winning the Europa League seems like the best way to achieve Champions League football next season.
Home side Anderlecht recently qualified for the end of season play-off matches to decide which teams emerges victorious in the Jupiler League, having have won two of their last four league games.
Last time out they drew 0-0 with Gent and, while they haven’t scored many recently, the Belgian side have been strong defensively. Anderlecht have only conceded four goals in their last six games and they haven’t conceded at home in their last five outings.
The travelling side, Manchester United, continued their impressive unbeaten run in the league with a 3-0 victory over Sunderland on Sunday. The Red Devils have now gone 21 Premier League games since they last tasted defeat, and in Europe, Mourinho’s side brushed aside Saint-Etienne by an aggregate of 4-0. To add context, the French outfit finished above Anderlecht in their Europa League group.
The biggest worry for Anderlecht heading into this game is the uncertainty surrounding their top scorer’s availability. Lukasz Teodorczyk has found the back of the net 28 times this season, yet he could be ruled out due to a shoulder injury. Being such a key member, however, Teodorczyk is likely to start if he can.
Jose Mourinho has a number of potential issues heading into this game. Antonio Valencia is expected to have recovered from an injury ahead of this tie. However, Sergio Romero is likely to start with first-choice shot-stopper David de Gea suffering from hip pain.
The Red Devils are also without Wayne Rooney, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Ashley Young and Juan Mata. Mourinho said he’s likely to start a similar XI to the one he used against Sunderland because of the number of players that are on the treatment table.
Verdict: Anderlecht 0-2 Manchester United
Although Anderlecht are strong at home, they haven’t faced anyone with the quality United have. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is in fine form, having scored in his last two outings. From defence to attack, Mourinho’s side are superior in every department and this is likely to show on Thursday.
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