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Preview: Manchester United to pull out all the stops to beat Celta Vigo?

Manchester United  -v- Celta Vigo

Old Trafford, Manchester

UEFA Europa League 2016/17

Thursday 11th May 2017; KO 20:05 BST

Live on BT Sport 2HD

Manchester United play their biggest match of the season at Old Trafford on Thursday night, the penultimate match at the Theatre of Dreams this season. Celta Vigo will be looking to bounce back from their 1-0 defeat a week ago by earning a place in the UEFA Europa League final – all they will need to do is score twice to put their foot in the door. United ideally need to keep a clean sheet or score one or two early goals, which will still make this match a nervous one as it is United’s best chance to keep their dream of a UEFA Champions League place next season. On Sunday in the Premier League, United were defeated 2-0 by Arsenal at the Emirates, meaning they remain fifth in the league, but an Arsenal win over Southampton on Wednesday could see United back in sixth and seemingly out of chances of a top-four finish this season. United will, however, keep trying in the league, unless they get to the Europa League final, with gives them 50% chance of winning.

Jose Mourinho made eight changes to his side against Arsenal, giving talented youth player Axel Tuanzebe a debut he could not forget and neither could we. He was impressive from the off and dealt with Alexis Sanchez to the best of his abilities, keeping the Chilean quiet. Tuanzebe will not be expected to be part of the team who start on Thursday, but that performance could see him included on the bench as he did a lot better than both Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, who in their favour had not played for some seven weeks. United have three matches to play after this game on Thursday, seeing the 2016/17 season come to an end, which has been a positive one for them. Winning the FA Community Shield and the EFL Cup shows that something is there in order for the team to fight for trophies and they could well end the season with another, now which they have never lifted before.

Celta Vigo have not had the best end to their season, losing all five of their last five matches, scoring one goal, which in La Liga sees them in twelfth place, a long way off a European place next season, which could give the side the motivation to sweep United aside and claim the final berth themselves. United may well be in the driving seat for this match, having an away goal but the Spanish side have the availability to end that by scoring themselves, like Anderlecht did in the last round, meaning United had to go into extra time to find the winner, which was exciting and all, but personally gives me that nervous feeling, which in actual fact I have not felt for a while. I am sure Mourinho and his team will be looking to earn their plaudits ahead of a summer which could see the boys cast away from the men searching for a chance to resurrect their careers.

Ander Herrera is determined to help obtain UEFA Champions League football next season, whether that be through United’s Premier League position, or winning the UEFA Europa League at the end of the month, should they get through Celta Vigo, of course. Herrera, speaking to the official Manchester United website, said:

“The most important thing is to be in the Champions League next season; I have no doubt for this club it is very important to be in the Champions League. 

“We have two titles – the Community Shield and League Cup – and we can have a very good season if we fight for the Europa League. But we have to be very respectful because Celta are very difficult opponents overall.

“They have scored away in every game they’ve played in the competition so we have to be aware of that. They are a very good team, very dangerous when they play away and we will need our fans at home. I tell them we really need them to create a good atmosphere, a difficult atmosphere for the opponents, who can push us to be in the final. It’s not going to be easy.”

Match Officials:

Ovidiu Haţegan will officiate the match at Old Trafford on Thursday evening. The Romanian referee has been in charge of four UEFA Champions League matches this season and this will be his second UEFA Europa League match. During those matches, he has shown 11 yellow cards, one second yellow and one red card (Champions League) and five yellow cards and one second yellow in the Europa League. The 37-year-old has never been involved in a Manchester United match before. The assistant referees have been named as Octavian Șovre and Sebastian Gheorghe. The fourth official will be Radu Ghinguleac. The additional assistant referees will be Radu Petrescu and Sebastian Colţescu.

Form: United’s unbeaten run in the Premier League has ended, but their season has only just begun

Manchester United: Jose Mourinho’s team started the season well, but soon lost their form, recovering it again at various points of the season. United recently achieved a 25-match unbeaten run, which sounds great, but has seen them flaunt with the teams above them, not actually gaining enough ground to get above them. The record though will be good for a foundation ahead of next season, which needs to be much better than this one. The fact that United have already won the FA Community Shield and the EFL Cup, and could end the season in a European final is something to salivate, despite it not being the European final many will have dreamt of. United still have a long way to go, but or on the right road, which cannot be said under David Moyes and Louis van Gaal, especially after the improvements made during the last summer.

Celta Vigo: Celta Vigo have had a tough season. Last season, they finished sixth in La Liga, two points shy of Athletic Bilbao. This season, however, the decline is very much visible with them in twelfth place at this moment in time, seemingly out of a European place, meaning this will be their chance to keep European football at the club next season. The Célticos have not won in their last six matches, drawing one, but losing the next five, scoring two goals throughout those matches. That sort of form days away from a visit to the Theatre of Dreams will be daunting for the Spanish side, who actually have nothing to lose, so will probably give it a go with just one goal between the two teams at this moment in time. An away goal will be a problem for United, who ideally need to shut up shop.

Who are the top scorers at both Manchester United and Celta Vigo this season?

Manchester United: 28 – Zlatan Ibrahimović, 12 – Marcus Rashford, 10 – Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 8 – Anthony Martial, 7 – Paul Pogba, Wayne Rooney, 5 – Jesse Lingard, 3 – Marouane Fellaini, 2 – Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling, 1 – Daley Blind, Own Goal, Marcos Rojo, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Antonio Valencia

Celta Vigo: 18 – Iago Aspas, 4 – Giuseppe Rossi, 3 – John Guidetti, Pione Sisto, Daniel Wass, 2 – Gustavo Cabral, Jozabed, Hugo Mallo, Fabian Orellana, Facundo Roncaglia, 1 – Claudio Beauvue, Theo Bongonda, Pape Cheikh, Marcelo Diaz, Pablo Hernandez, Alvaro Lemos, Nemanja Radoja

Team News: United stronger after three players coming back from injury but Zlatan’s absence could still be costly

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho will be without Marcos Rojo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ashley Young, Luke Shaw and Timothy Fosu-Mensah for this match, all of who have significant injuries, aside from Young, who has a hamstring issue. Marcus Rashford received an injury in this fixture last week, but he played against Arsenal on Sunday, so it was nothing serious and he should be raring to go on Thursday night at the Theatre of Dreams. Celta Vigo manager Eduardo Berizzo will be without Guiseppe Rossi and Rubén Blanco, which should leave him with a talented enough squad to aim to get something from this match.

Previous Meetings: A second meeting between the two sides, the first at Old Trafford

United and Celta Vigo played for the first time at Balaídos last week with Marcus Rashford scoring the only goal of the game. This will be the first time the Spanish side visit the Theatre of Dreams, which could be a big occasion for them. Both United and Celta Vigo have played Spanish and English opposition respectively, and seem to have a decent record, although none of the matches have been played all that recently. United will have enough in reserve to push Celta aside, though.

Starting XI Prediction: Who is going to start against Celta Vigo?

Predicted Score:

Manchester United 2-0 Celta Vigo

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