Anderlecht and Manchester United will lock horns at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium this Thursday evening.The Europa League has slowly gained traction and is now seen as a really attractive alternative to winning silverware. Such has been the dominance of the Spanish monoliths in Europe’s top competition, managers are beginning to take this tournament far more seriously. Jose Mourinho’s side will likely need to lift the Europa League trophy in order to qualify for next year’s Champions League, while Rene Weiler will be all too aware of this desperation. His side will likely view this tie as a mini cup final and will need some form of result to take back to Old Trafford.
Anderlecht vs Manchester United | Thursday 13 April | Constant Vanden Stock Stadium | 21:05
To Win (90 Mins)
Anderlecht 28/10 | Draw 24/10 | Man United 19/20
Manager Rene Weiler will be extremely pleased with the progression of his side in this year’s tournament. A tight victory over Apoel in the last round came in the wake of an astonishing surprise victory over Zenit. They are coming off a draw with Gent in the Belgian First Division Championship Round and currently lead Club Brugge by four points there. Having not won the top-flight in Belgium since 2014 - this currently represents a fantastic season for the side and they will realise the huge amount of pressure that currently resides on the shoulders of Manchester United.
Anderlecht are currently unbeaten in ten games at home in all competition and have kept eight clean sheets in that run. They will be without right-back Andy Najar through injury this week while midfielder Adrien Trebel is ineligible for the Europa League. Acheampong will likely come in to bolster their attacking line as cover for Trebel. The likes of Tielemans and Teodorczyk will present problems to United if the English club becomes too cavalier in their approach. But this is a United side that has been ruthlessly pragmatic in Europe and won’t get easily lulled into complacency.
Mourino’s side are not rightfully installed as the favourites to win this competition. This has been exacerbated by their lukewarm performances in the Premier League, meaning that this has become something resembling a necessity to the Red Devils. He will likely have Antonio Valencia return to the side and will no doubt persist with the embattled Luke Shaw at left-back. Shaw was brilliant against Everton and Sunderland and looks to have taken on board Mourinho’s public critique. Michael Carrick may return alongside Herrera in an attempt to shore the midfield.
With no other recognisable center-halves, Mourinho will persist with Bailly and Rojo. Ibra will obviously lead the line with Rashford and Mkhitaryan likely to play on the flanks. Pogba is going to have a critical role in this game and will likely be deployed in a more advanced role. United have won five of their last seven away games in all competitions, but have lost to both Fenerbache and Feyenoord away from home in this competition. They have struggled to score fluidly and will likely battle to break down an Anderlecht side that will be set up to absorb and counter.
Verdict: Totals - Under 2.5 Goals - 8/11
This is going to be an extremely tight game and is likely to be decided by the odd goal. Anderlecht will just compress play and United will struggle to break them down in much the same way they have floundered at home in the Premier League. United will go back to Old Trafford favourites - but not by too much.
Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.