Manchester United are all set to take on Celta Vigo at home in Old Trafford for the second leg of their Europa League semi-final.
The stage is set as the Red Devils prepare to welcome Spanish club Celta de Vigo for their semi-final at Old Trafford, after having secured a 1-0 goal aggregate from their first leg.
The spotlight will be at the Friends Arena in Stockholm towards the end of May, and both clubs are within touching distance of reaching the coveted final. Recent league matches played by United and Celta Vigo prove that the managers have prioritized the Europa League above everything else. Both clubs will need to get back to winning ways tonight despite poor league performances.
The scenarios are a bit different though, as one team will play to regain lost glory and the other will play to make history.
United will be up against a tough Celta Vigo side capable of creating upsets, and will have to remain consistent in order to win this one. Mourinho’s men hold a narrow advantage as Marcus Rashford scored a goal in the away fixture to give the club a well-deserved victory.
The Europa League is the only major trophy left to be added to United’s magnificent trophy cabinet, and this time, Manchester United will try their best to not let this opportunity go.
Team News and Tactics
Earlier, Manchester United were given a boost by the return of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Juan Mata against Arsenal last weekend. However, they still lack five key players as Tim Fosu-Mensah, Ashley Young, Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw and Zlatan Ibrahimovic continue to be sidelined through injury.
Eric Bailly, Daley Blind, Antonio Valencia and Paul Pogba are among the players who are likely to feature in this game after being unused substitutes against the Gunners. As is the case with all of United’s Europa League fixtures, Sergio Romero might take his regular starting spot as goalkeeper instead of David De Gea. Marouane Fellaini will also be available since his ban applies only to domestic matches.
Clearly, Jose Mourinho has saved the best of his lot for this match. With a dip in their form in the Premier League, Mourinho knows that he needs to win this game at all costs. A lot of expectations have been set, and the only reason they’ve not faced any backlash so far is because people are waiting to see how things go down in the Europa League.
United’s squad is so strong that despite having so many injured key players, they still have quite a number of good players to salvage a victory. As seen in the first leg, Celta Vigo’s defence was easily broken by United quite a number of times. The midfield area was also dominated by the likes of Mkhitaryan, and even their attack line could not fight enough to break the United defence. The Red Devils will be looking to channelize the same energy and put up a stronger performance to restrict the Spanish club from taking a place in the final.
Probable line-up: Romero, Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Darmian, Fellaini, Herrera, Pogba, Lingard, Mkhitaryan, Rashford
Celta De Vigo
The Spanish club’s boss Berizzo will recall most of their players who missed out on La Liga action this weekend, especially with the likes of John Guidetti and Iago Aspas featuring in the front-line. Other than the fact that the team will remain pretty much the same as the first leg, there is no other major news considering they have no fresh injury concerns.
Celta Vigo have had a remarkable season in the Europa League so far. They failed to muster the same energy in the La Liga, but like Mourinho, Berizzo has put all of his focus into qualifying for the final. However, the players have been recently showing signs of fatigue with barely weeks remaining.
Their 1-0 loss to United made it their fifth consecutive match without a win across competitions, and that record only increased over the weekend as they lost in the La Liga as well. Ten changes were made for Vigo’s trip to Malaga, and yet they lost 3-0. However, most of their first team players were rested and so United will have to face a highly-rejuvenated squad.
Tactically speaking, it is no secret that United will try to dominate possession as much as possible, and spring in a surprise counter-attack now and then. That is what Vigo must be extra-vigilant about, and try tor restrict them as much as possible. They did close to scoring a couple of times in the first leg, and will have to try not to let the 1-0 aggregate score bring their confidence down. Ensuring they have a strong defence will also help them is controlling United, and bring about more sync in the midfield as well.
Probable line-up: Alvarez, Mallo, Cabral, Roncaglia, Castro Otto, Radoja, Hernandez, Wass, Sisto, Aspas, Guidetti
- Last Thursday was the first time these two clubs ever came face-to-face in a match.
- United’s records do not boast much against Spanish opposition in general, with only 13 wins out of 48 matches.
- The last time United played a Spanish team was during the 2013-14 season when they won two games against Real Sociedad in the Champions League group stages.
- Vigo have made their first European appearance in a decade. The last time they played an English team was in the 2006-07 season when they lost 2-1 to Newcastle United in a UEFA Cup match.
Player to watch out for: Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Manchester United made quite a splash in the previous transfer window, but Henrikh Mkhitaryan was arguably their best buy. The Armenian has struggled to make a strong impact in the Premier League, but he has been splendid in Europe.
He has scored five goals in the Europa League so far, which is a lot more than his tally at home. The fact that he struggled initially does not take away his potential, and that player has a lot of it. He is fast, creative and does not rush into silly plays. United require perhaps a goal or two to get through, and Mkhitaryan can undoubtedly provide those goals for the Red Devils.
To be very honest, Manchester United should win this. There is very little they can do to mess this up. They have a fully fresh squad and will be playing at home. Also, they’ve faced far more formidable opponents before and emerged victorious. Celta Vigo are a good team, but Manchester United have what it takes to be better.
The game is set according to United’s liking, and it will make it all the more easier for them to engage in sneaky counter-attacks to throw Celta Vigo off-track. The Spanish club will have to focus on making things tighter in the mdifield, if they are to create any major upset.
However, this should be a relatively easy game for United, and the match is likely to end in a 2-1 victory for the Manchester side.