With finishing in the top four of the Premier League looking increasingly unlikely, Jose Mourinho knows that winning the Europa League for the first time in Manchester United’s history is the best way to secure a return to the Champions League after a season out of it. The club’s last match in the competition was in December 2015, with Louis van Gaal overseeing a 3-2 loss to Wolfsburg which resulted in group stage elimination.
It is fair to say that the Red Devils have developed into a much more solid and consistent team since then under their Portuguese coach – they are, it should not be forgotten, unbeaten in the Premier League since October, with only their frustrating 12 draws – the joint-highest in the division – stopping a title challenge.
In their way of a last-four place are Belgian leaders Anderlecht. They finished second in Group C to Saint-Etienne and United beat the French club in the round of 32. The Purple and Whites have already eliminated Zenit Saint Petersburg and APOEL, so will fancy their chances of going deeper into the tournament – particularly as they are currently leading the end-of-season Championship play-offs.
Mourinho named a weakened side at Sunderland last weekend, though it was still enough for a 3-0 win against the bottom club that are all but relegated to the Championship. His side are boosted by the return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swede has found the net 28 times and will be the primary threat in Anderlecht. A slight positive for the home side is that David de Gea, recovering from a slight injury, is to be replaced by Sergio Romero who, while being much improved and an able deputy, is not of the same standard as the Spanish No.1.
With neither side wanting to go to next week’s meeting more than a goal behind, it is likely that this will be a cagey first encounter. However, United are favourites to take a lead to Old Trafford – this is available at 1.95. Anderlecht are 4.05 to win, but they will be eager not to concede an away goal. All 63 markets for the game can be viewed here.
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Odds 12.04.2017 – 12:00 PM (no guarantee for the accuracy of the statistics and odds, odds subject to change, livestreaming depends on the TV rights of the countries, there is no guarantee to activate streams in some countries)