Manchester United will return to Europa League action tonight as we arrive in Spain to take on Granada in the quarter-finals first leg tie. The game kicks off at 20:00PM BST. It can be watched live on BT Sport 2 with coverage starting at 19:15PM.
The Red Devils arrived into this game after securing all three points last weekend when we came from behind to beat Brighton 2-1. Whilst we look to secure second place in the league, the Europa League represents our chance to achieve some silverware at the end of the season.
Since United exited the Champions League group stages, we have conceded just one goal in the last four Europa League games. In the last round of the competition, a Paul Pogba winning goal against AC Milan in the second leg meant we triumphed over the Rossoneri 2-1 on aggregate.
Some would say we have been handed a favourable quarter-final draw. However, United must not take their Spanish opponents lightly. This will be the first-ever meeting between the sides. United have not conceded any goals in their last two away Europa League games and will want to come away from the Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes tonight with another clean sheet.
Manchester United Team News
For United, we will be without Anthony Martial who is unlikely to feature in the remaining games of the season. Martial suffered a knee injury whilst on international duty and it is now worse than feared. Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær said in the pre-match press conference, “Anthony has started his recovery and, if we see him before the end of the season, I will be very surprised. But, of course, he is determined to come back as quickly as he can. There are important games for us before the end of the season and then there are the Euros [with France, in the summer].”
Paul Pogba could feature on the left-hand side of the attack if Marcus Rashford is not able to feature from the start. Rashford was taken off as a precaution during the second half of the Brighton game.
Alex Telles is back in the squad after recovering from a non-COVID related illness. Juan Mata has returned from his respective injury. Eric Bailly is out of the game after testing positive for Covid-19.
Manchester United’s Predicted Lineup
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Fred, Pogba; Greenwood, Fernandes, James, and Cavani.
Opposition Preview and Team News
Granada have been the surprise package of the Europa League this season. They knocked out Molde in the previous round. Their 2-0 victory in the first leg gave them the advantage as they went into the second leg. Even though they lost the return leg 2-1, it was the crucial away goal scored by Roberto Soldado that proved key in their progression.
They come into the game off the back of two successive defeats in the league having lost to Valencia and Villarreal. This had also ended a run of four home wins for Granada.
Manager Diego Martinez revealed during his press conference that he is without three players. Luis Milla, Alberto Soro, and Neyder Lozano will miss the game. He said, “We cannot confuse the desire that they are available with that they are prepared to compete at the highest level. If it is not for Thursday, they are for Sunday [in La Liga] or for next Thursday. It’s one thing to be available and another to be at full capacity and with the best performance for a top-level match.”
Roberto Soldado is expected to lead the line for Granada. We will be against former Premier League player Kennedy, who played for Newcastle United.
United cannot start the game as we did at the weekend against Brighton. We need to get on the front foot and achieve those important away goals. The Red Devils have had some impressive performances away from Old Trafford this season. It is important we come away with the advantage with the return leg a week later. The Europa League represents the best opportunity for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær to grab his first trophy. We will want to go all the way in the competition.
Granada 0-2 Manchester United