Jose Mourinho and Manchester United will be one step closer to securing Champions League football next season if they can defeat Belgium side Anderlecht today at Old Trafford. The Red Devils take on the leaders of the Belgium league Anderlecht in their second leg Europa League quarter-final match and the match could go either way after the first leg ended in a 1-1 draw.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan gave Manchester United the lead in the first leg and it looked like Mourinho and his men would come away with the win but Leander Dendoncker levelled the score line for Anderlecht to keep them in the tie.
Manchester United will be the favourites to come away with the win and progress to the semi-finals of the Europa League and after they dominated Chelsea over the weekend, the United players will be highly motivated to register another important win.
Club captain Wayne Rooney could be in contention to make the bench for this match after he missed the last four games with an ankle injury. However, the likes of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Juan Mata will miss this match as they continue to recover from various injuries.
The other important team news for Manchester United ahead of this match is that Sergio Romero will start in goal ahead of David de Gea once again just like in the first leg. Zlatan Ibrahimovic could also get back into the starting 11 after he was dropped to the bench for the weekend clash against Chelsea.
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The 35-year-old is Manchester United's top scorer this season and is set to be honoured with a statue at the Friends Arena in his native Sweden where the final will be played and Mourinho feels it would be fantastic for Zlatan to play there in the finals.
"For Zlatan it would be fantastic to play the final in Stockholm, in his country. It would be beautiful. It will be the perfect end to the season," said Mourinho, who took over at United last May. "A difficult season, lots of matches, trying to build a team, trying to recover a certain mentality, trying to finish the season playing a European final. It will be the perfect finale for Manchester United," Daily Mail quoted Mourinho as saying.
Anderlecht are certainly still in the game after they managed to salvage a 1-1 draw in the first leg but history is not on their side. The Belgium side lost to Manchester United 10-0 back in 1956 and they have never won in 17 of their previous games against English oppositions, drawing two and losing 15.
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Anderlecht, the most successful team in Belgian football, are competing in their first European competition quarter-finals in 20 years. But a win at Old Trafford does not seem to be their main goal and with a crucial title deciding match against Club Brugge on Sunday, top scorer Lukasz Teodorczyk could start from the bench.
Anderlecht coach Rene Weiler admitted during his pre-match press conference that they are going to face a very high level team in Manchester United today but he still believes that his team can cause an upset.
"Of course we have to believe. We do believe, but at the same time we have to be realistic. We know we are playing a very high level team in Manchester United. You only have to look at the performance of this squad last Sunday, they limited Chelsea to hardly any shots on target at all. I think they have had three defeats in the entire season and in the last 22 matches in the game they are unbeaten," Weiler said.
"They are very strong at the back and they have some great individuals as well. We saw in the first leg what they can do and we know it is going to be very hard, and we know that pretty much everyone in our team is going to have to put in a perfect performance."
"But we do believe and we will be trying our absolute best to try and make sure that happens. We do need a goal but we need to be prudent as well."
Where to watch
The second leg Europa League quarter-final match between Manchester United and Anderlecht is set to start at 8:05pm local time, 12:35am IST and 3:05pm EST.
TV and live streaming information
India: TV: TEN 1 HD, TEN 2. Live streaming: Sony Liv.
UK: TV: BT Sports 2. Live streaming: BT Sport Live.
USA: TV: Fox Sports 1. Live streaming: FOX Sports Go.
Africa: TV: SuperSport 3. Live streaming: SuperSport live.
Belgium: TV: Club RTL, Canvas.