Manchester United are looking to go one step further when they take on Anderlecht in the first leg of the quarter-final on Thursday evening.
Date: Thursday 13 April
Venue: Constant Vanden Stock Stadium
United will travel to Belgium in what has been another busy week for Jose Mourinho and his team.
They go into the clash on the back of a comfortable 3-0 victory against Sunderland. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcus Rashford were both on the scoresheet and Mourinho will have been pleased to see his side keep a clean sheet despite not naming any specialist central defenders in the starting XI.
Mourinho will be without a number of key players yet again and they will face a tough encounter against a Belgian side who have dominated the league this season and have looked in good form.
Anderlecht have won four and drawn one of their last five fixtures. They have also kept a clean sheet in their last four home fixtures and will be looking to stop United getting on the score-sheet on Thursday.
René Weiler’s side has already won the Belgian Jupiler League’s regular season and are favourites to win their 34th title in the end-of-season Championship Group so will be no pushovers for United.
Andy Nájar picked up a hamstring injury at the end of last month and has not featured since. He will be absent again on Thursday but apart from the right-back, Anderlecht have a full-strength squad to choose from.
United have a whole host of players out injured at the moment and they’re unlikely to have any of them back for the clash on Thursday – though Antonio Valencia could face a late fitness test.
Wayne Rooney, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Juan Mata, Ashley Young and David De Gea all missed Sunday’s victory over Sunderland.
De Gea is unlikely to return on Thursday but he should be back for United’s crucial Premier League battle against Chelsea at Old Trafford this weekend.
Leander Dendoncker: Anderlecht’s defensive record has been impressive this season and they have not lost a game at home in 2017. Dendoncker has played a vital role in that success as a defensive midfielder. He has notched up more minutes than any other defensive player in the squad and has been involved in the last 10 fixtures.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic: The striker has already scored 28 goals this season and he’ll be looking to add to his impressive tally. He’s been the difference in so many big games this season and United will look to him to break the deadlock against a very solid Belgian defence.
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored in his 21st different match of the season for Manchester United on Sunday against Sunderland.
- Anderlecht lost just one game in March and that was on the first weekend in a 3-2 defeat away to Mechelen.
- Marouane Fellaini was the longest serving outfield player against Sunderland and was given the armband as a result. He could be named captain yet again.
- The Belgian outfit have won eight of their 12 Europa League games this season (D2, L2.)
- 25% of Anderlecht’s goals this season have been scored in the final 15 minutes of the game but 30% of United’s goals have been scored just before half-time.
If United can come away with a draw they should be pleased. Few teams have been able to score at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium this season and United would be favourites going into the clash at Old Trafford. Anderlecht would probably settle for a draw too and hope to knick a vital away goal in Manchester.
Anderlecht 0-0 Manchester United