The quarter finals of the Europa League are about to get underway. On Thursday, Manchester United will face Anderlecht in the capital city of Belgium, hoping to go into the second leg at Old Trafford with a lead. Anderlecht have won five of their last six European home games and will feel confident going into the tie. With next month’s final in Sweden so close, United will be keen to build an advantage here.
The first ever fixture between these two clubs is one which will be remembered forever as United won 10-0 against the Belgian side in 1956. This score remains Anderlecht’s heaviest loss, and United’s biggest win in Europe.
After Sunday’s win over Sunderland, Mourinho said that he expects Valencia to be available for selection again, but although De Gea’s hip problem is “not serious”, Sergio Romero may retain his place in goal. However, David De Gea is in the squad to face Anderlecht. Mourinho confirmed in his press conference today that Wayne Rooney is not fit for tomorrow’s game, but may be available for selection on the weekend. According to the BBC, only Juan Mata, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones were absent from training today.
Anderlecht are a good team who have some very dangerous players. One player which most people would have heard of is Youri Tielemans, a 19 year old Belgian central midfielder who is already making a name for himself for his club and country. The midfielder has scored three goals in the group stages and captained his club for both legs in the round of 32 against Zenit. Also, Lukasz Teodorczyk has been a big danger for Anderlecht going forward this season. The Polish frontman has scored 5 goals in the Europa League since joining the club on loan from Dynamo Kiev last summer.
As we all know and reality is beginning to kick in, it will be tough for Manchester United to finish in the top four this season. With arguably the hardest league fixtures left for the rest of the season of the top seven, it is clear that we need to be prepared for what happens if we don’t finish in the top four. The Europa League seems like our most realistic route into the Champions League next season. There is no two ways about it, we must beat Anderlecht in this tie, then win the semi final fixtures and then most importantly, win in Sweden!
Jose Mourinho in his press conference today: “We are going to fight with everything, domestically and in Europe, to reach the Champions League”.