After a disappointing draw at home against Swansea City, the chances to make it to top four in the Premier League look very slim for Manchester United. Naturally, their best shot at the Champions League spot is to win the UEFA Europa League this season. And it goes without saying that they are the hot favourites at the moment.
In pursuit of the coveted trophy, Jose Mourinho’s men will face the challenge of the Spanish side Celta de Vigo in the semifinal tomorrow night. The La Liga outfit are not in their best shape this season, as they sit at the 11th spot in the domestic league. But, they did their best to edge past Genk in the quarter finals of the tournament and the team will hope for a grand start against United too.
Manchester United had a difficult time defeating Anderlecht in the quarter final of the Europa League. The match went to extra time when Marcus Rashford netted the winner with a few minutes on the clock. Celta, on the other hand, won it fair and square against Genk, banking on their 3-2 home victory in the first leg. This time, once again, they will start the proceedings at home and the manager Eduardo Berizzo will hope for a similar outcome yet again.
Mourinho will have to get over a lot of injury worries at the moment. During the last match against Swansea City, Luke Shaw and Eric Bailly limped off the pitch to add their names on the long list of injured defenders. In this fixture against Celta Vigo, the biggest challenge for the Portuguese boss is to find an appropriate combination in the centre of the back.
Although Bailly, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones returned to training and have travelled to Spain, they might not be fit enough to start on Thursday. On the other hand, Marcos Rojo and Tim Fosu-Mensah are out of action too. Thus, the only proper option is Daley Blind. And then, the manager will have to find someone to slot in there with the Dutchman. The most likely candidate is Michael Carrick who had some experiences playing in that role in Louis Van Gaal’s times. If not the veteran, 19 year old youngster Alex Tuanzebe may get his big break.
In midfield, the team will be boosted with the return of Juan Mata who is expected to start against Celta Vigo. Paul Pogba also trained with the squad and can make an appearance as well. However, Marouane Fellaini may get the nod ahead of the Frenchman who would probably come off the bench if needed. Up front, the responsibilities of scoring will lie with Rashford one more time, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic may miss the actions for a long time.
The home side, on the other hand, are in a good situation so far as the injury front is concerned. The gaffer chose to rest his main players in the last weekend fixture against Athletic Bilbao, a game Celta got thrashed 0-3. In fact, they have now lost consecutive three matches, and that might work against the team’s zeal for success.
The Spanish side’s hopes will be on their experienced attackers Iago Aspas and John Guidetti who previously plied their trades in the Premier League.
Celta Vigo win: 2/1
Manchester United win: 6/4
The match will kick off at 7:45pm local time on Thursday (1:45pm CDT, 2:45pm Eastern, Friday 00:15am IST). It will be broadcast live in BT Sport 2 (UK) and beIN Sport 2 (USA). For live streaming links, send us a message to the official Facebook page.