Europa League: Celta Vigo v Manchester United Preview

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We preview Thursday night's Europa League semi-final between Celta Vigo and Manchester United. 

One would think that Jose Mourinho would ordinarily have much cause for optimism going into a huge European semi-final. But an almost comical raft of defensive injuries have left him in a position of having to use his - fairly considerable - imagination to even get a team out this week. Their travails in trying to attain a top-four spot in the Premier League took a hit with that draw against Swansea, making this tournament even more vital. Celta were humbled 3-0 at home to Bilbao this weekend, although they do not have domestic concerns that currently plague United. They have had a disappointing season in La Liga and currently occupy 11th place on the log. But they have shone in this tournament and will take solace from the sheer breadth of United’s injury concerns.

Celta Vigo v Manchester United | Thursday 4 April | Balai’Dos | 4 May 2017

To Win (90 Mins)
Celta Vigo 39/20 | Draw 2/1 | Man United 15/10


Celta Vigo

Eduardo Berizzo’s side have clearly decided to focus this competition as the most likely route to European football. This is also their first ever European semi-final and thus represents a historical event for the club. They will know that they have to take advantage of the injury crisis that has rocked the foundation of the United defensive line. They will be without goalkeeper Ruben Blanco due to injury while defender Carles Planas misses out. Perhaps their most pivotal absentee is veteran striker Giuseppe Rossi, whose predatory instincts could have proved vital should the game stay tight.

Having lost their last three consecutive games in La Liga, it is easy to see that Vigo have thrown their lot into this competition. They play with a fairly narrow 4-3-3 that utilises John Guidetti as the ostensible target man. The big center-forward isn’t the most prolific of centre-forwards but does a vital job for the side. With United likely to field a fairly lightweight central defensive combination of Darmian and Blind; he could prove vital. But the real danger man is former Liverpool ‘star’ Iago Aspas. Owner of perhaps the largest head in European football, the winger has had a virtuosic season, scoring 24 goals in 44 games.

Manchester United
Well, what a predicament Mourinho has found himself in. Eric Bailey and Luke Shaw’s respective injuries at the weekend have ravaged their defensive lines. Add that to Marcus Rojo, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Fosu Mensah, and you get the picture of the troubles facing United. Then factor in the absence of Zlatan up front. Darmian and Blind will have to play through the middle while I expect that Ashley Young will come in as an emergency left-back. The good news is that Paul Pogba should be available. The harshly criticised Frenchman has been sorely missed in the last few games and will add athleticism to the middle of the park.

It will be interesting to see how Mourinho plays it going forward. Juan Mata has been well utilised in this competition, but I expect that will opt for his fastest line-up going forward in order to stretch Celta and take pressure off his defensive line-up. Rashford will play through the middle while Mkhitaryan and Martial should play out wide. I expect Mourinho to get pragmatic and bring Fellaini into the middle of the park.  He is currently serving a domestic ban but is available for selection here.

Verdict: Totals - Under 2.5 Goals - 11/20
While this may not look too favourable on the surface, it should be easy money. United will go into complete hibernation mode and I can’t see a terrific, rollercoaster goal-scoring affair here.
Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

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