Preview: Celta de Vigo v Manchester United

Celta de Vigo will host Manchester United in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League semi-final on Thursday night.

UEFA Europa League
Date: 4 May 2016
Kick-off: 21H05 (GMT+2)
Venue: Estadio de Balaídos

Referee: S. Karasev
Assistants: A. Averianov, T. Kalugin
Fourth official: I. Demeshko

Head-to-head summary:

The two teams have never met.

Players to watch:

Iago Aspas has been carrying the Celta attack this season, scoring 24 goals across all competitions, while adding eight assists. Five of the goals were scored in the Europa League.

With Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the sidelines following his knee surgery, United will be hoping the likes of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial can step up in the goal-scoring department. The pair have bagged 18 goals between them in all competitions.

The Red Devils could also be boosted by the return of Juan Mata, who will give them some much needed fresh legs and a creative spark as they make the trip to Spain.

Team form and manager quotes:

The Spanish hosts are low on confidence heading into the clash as they have suffered three consecutive defeats in La Liga. They lost 1-0 at home to Real Betis, 2-1 away at Sevilla, and most recently 3-0 at home to Athletic Bilbao.

However, the promise of a European final on the horizon may be enough to rejuvenate Celta as they aim to grab one of their biggest scalps yet, in Manchester United.

When asked about his football philosophy, Celta manager Eduardo Berizzo said, according to the Guardian: “I like us to control games, to be protagonists; I don’t like us to be dominated.

“I want the ball the maximum amount of time possible and when I don’t have it I want it back. Then I want dynamism, mobility, spark, and I want us to use it well. I want us to be a team whose movements make it hard for the opposition to read us.”

Meanwhile, the Red Devils have not been setting the world alight, but have avoided defeat in their last 11 games across all competitions. Their last two outings resulted in draws against Manchester City and Swansea.

Jose Mourinho’s men are still outside the Premier League’s top four, which adds much more importance to the Europa League. Should they fail to finish in the top four, they will need to win the Europa League title to claim a spot in next season’s Champions League.

United have struggled with a number of injury problems over the last few weeks, but Mourinho revealed that several of their missing men will be back in the fray in the first leg.

Along with Mata’s potential return, Paul Pogba, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly are all available again too.

Team news:

Celta will be without the services of Carles Planas and Giuseppe Rossi, who are both sidelined with injuries.

United are still missing Luke Shaw, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo to injuries.