Manchester United are back in action on Thursday night to contest the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie against Granada at the Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes. This will be the first-ever meeting between the two sides.
Coming off the back of a home win against Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday night, United will be looking to continue their excellent European away record this season, as they aim to gain the upper hand in an all important European clash.
In a first leg that matters so much, United will be looking to end their bad winless streak in first leg ties – having failed to win in their last three two-legged quarter-final games in European Competitions (2D, 1L).
Having already dispatched a La Liga side in Real Sociedad this European campaign – the Red Devils will be hoping for a similar outcome against Granada.
The quarter-final will be broadcasted live on BT Sport 1 in the UK – with the game commencing at 20:00 (BST). Artur Dias of Portugal will be the referee for this game while his Portuguese counterpart Luis Godinho will control VAR.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Reds face a Granada side who’ve failed to win in their last four out of five league games and sit in 9th place in the La Liga standings.
Contrary to their poor league form, however, the Nazaríes outfit has exceeded expectations in their European run in to face United.
Finishing second in Group E – behind PSV Eindhoven, ending their group stage campaign with 3 wins, 2 draws and a loss.
Since then, the Spanish side surprisingly knocked out Gennaro Gattuso’s talented Napoli side – managing to beat the Naples outfit by an aggregate score of 3-2 in the Round of 32.
The last 16 saw Granada entertain Solskjaer’s former side, Molde. Granada were heavily tested in their two games but managed to progress with yet another 3-2 aggerate result, after losing 2-1 in their second leg in Norway.
Diego Martinez’s side boasts a continental record at home that sees them having only conceded twice in their last two Europa League games.
They’ll be looking to keep it that away against a United side who’ve managed to score five goals in their last two away knockout games.
The Red Devils away record in the Europa League illustrates great viewing – having beaten AC Milan and Real Sociedad in the Round of 32 and 16 respectively – collecting two clean sheets in the process.
United’s exceptional away form shows they’ve only lost once on their travels this year and will be looking to continue their winning ways when they play Granada tomorrow night.
For United, their team sees the return of Marcus Rashford, after the 23-year old came off with a knock in their 2-1 win over Brighton. The England man, however, trained today and could keep his place in the starting eleven.
However, one key man United will be without for this game and the foreseeable season is their number nine, Anthony Martial. The Frenchman was potentially ruled out for the rest of the season last week after sustaining an injury on international duty with France.
Eric Bailly is also unavailable for tomorrow’s game after contracting COVID-19.
Granada comes into this clash with striker Luis Suarez unavailable due to injury – former Premier League striker Roberto Soldado is set to replace him in the nine role.
Granada has four former and current Premier League players at their disposal in Kenedy, Soldado, Yangel Herrera and Jesus Vallejo – four players set to start in the first leg.
On-loan Chelsea winger Kenedy will be aiming to pester the United defence with his blistering pace, while former Wolves man Vallejo battles against United’s wingers in Rashford or Daniel James.
Yangel Herrera – the Venezuelan international on loan from Manchester City could ruffle the feathers of his rivals.
Diego Martinez will be without three of his team’s full-backs with Carlos Neva, Dimitri Foulquier and Quini all currently injured. The fifth casualty for Granada sees Neyder Lozano out with a long term injury.
Players to keep a close eye on
United’s one to watch for Thursday nights clash will be Mason Greenwood.
The talented 19-year old could have the task of leading the line after scoring the winner on Sunday night against Brighton.
With injuries to Martial and inconsistencies in Edinson Cavani’s form – Solskjaer could opt to play Greenwood in his preferred role upfront, knowing the youngster provides a huge threat inside the box.Embed from Getty Images
Cavani has shown to deliver when used off the bench – his energy and movement in the final 10-20 minutes of the game could cause Granada problems.
Granada’s player to watch out for is Soldado, the former Tottenham Hotspur man has been the club’s joint top-scorer alongside Jorge Molina with 11 goals this season.
Unlike his playing days at Spurs, the veteran striker could provide a real goal-threat if United fail to contain him.
After being knocked out of the FA Cup by Leicester City, Solskjaer’s side only has one trophy to play for this season – the Europa League.
Thursday night’s encounter gives United the chance to place one leg in another semi-final and potentially avenge themselves after last year’s heartbreak.
After three trophyless years this could be the season United finally win silverware again – if they can beat Granada first.