Manchester United return to UEFA Europa League action this evening as they face Granada CF at the Nuevo Estadio de Los Cármenes, which will be the first time both teams have met in European competition. United reached the quarter-final stage of the completion this season by beating both Real Sociedad (4-0 on aggregate) and AC Milan (2-1 on aggregate) after falling from the group stages of the UEFA Champions League at the end of 2020. Granada came through the qualification stages and the group stage beating Napoli and Molde with the same 3-2 on aggregate scorelines.
Granada seem to be a different team in competitions than they are in La Liga, sitting in ninth place currently and unlikely to feature in European competition next season because of this. However, as they have beaten both Napoli and Molde, both 2-0 scorelines at home in the last two knockout rounds, losing 2-1 away from home and still reaching the next round, they will be seen as the team to beat, which could be an uncertain match for United as they tend to struggle against teams they should beat easily. Hopefully this is different as United are seen as the favourites to win the competition this season.
Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw;
James, Fernandes, Rashford;
Grant, Henderson; Telles, Williams, Tuanzebe; Mata, Fred, Diallo, Matic, Van de Beek; Cavani, Elanga
Díaz, Vallejo, Duarte, Neva,
Kenedy, Montoro, Puertas;
Banacloche, Fabrega; Foulquier, Pérez, Germán; Brice; Suárez, Machis, Molina
United and Granada have not yet met in any European competition so Thursday’s match will be the first and also the first time United have played at the Nuevo Estadio de Los Cármenes. Granada have not yet faced any English opposition in European competition either, so in a week’s time, it will be their first time playing a competitive match at Old Trafford, the Theatre of Dreams. United have faced Spanish opposition many times, including beat Real Sociedad in the round of 32 stage of the competition this season, winning 4-0 in the first leg and drawing 0-0 in the second, winning 4-0 on aggregate.
United also faced Sevilla in the semi-final of the competition last season, losing 2-1 in the one-legged match with the competition being delayed and switched to one-legged matches after the round of 32 stage because of the coronavirus pandemic which raged around the world. United have pedigree in facing Spanish teams in European competition, facing Barcelona, Valencia, Real Madrid, Celta Vigo, Athletic Club, Villarreal, Deportivo La Coruña and Atlético Madrid. United have played 59 times against Spanish opposition, winning 14, drawing 23 and losing 22 – scoring 69 goals and conceding 80.
Written by John Walker