Manchester United pin Champions League hopes on Europa - but first Celta Vigo

Published on May 10th, 2017 12:25 pm EST
Written By: Cian Murray
Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini in action wearing the home kit.  2016/17 season. Manchester United's hopes of finishing in the top-four of the Premier League were dealt a serious blow last weekend when they lost to an Arsenal side who also have Champions League aspirations.

Fortunately for the Red Devils, they do still have the Europa League and if they manage to win that tournament, they get a place in next season's premier European competition. Jose Mourinho's team will have to get by Celta Vigo in the second-leg of their semi-final if they are to keep up their hopes of winning the trophy.

Fortunately for the English side, they do take a one goal lead into that game. United's manager has really gone for broke too, resting many of his top performers in the game against Arsenal so he can concentrate on this tournament.

Former Arsenal striker Charlie Nicholas reckons this gamble will pay off for the Portuguese manager. He told Sky Sports: "[He] now has the pressure on him because he's the one who has put the eggs in this Europa League basket. Although he'll probably get the last laugh with two trophies from a team that has not been very impressive.

"They'll have to be more adventurous here because the Old Trafford fans demand that, especially after he did his new friend Arsene Wenger a big favour. They'll bring Marcus Rashford back to add his pace to Antony Martial's and they'll be able to be patient and pick Celta Vigo off on the counter-attack."

Only time will tell if Mourinho was right to focus on the Europa League, but the bookies certainly reckon that United will progress. They are priced at 8/15 to win the game and 1/8 to qualify.

Celta Vigo shouldn't be overlooked though. They have a potent strikeforce which includes former Manchester City striker John Guidetti and Iago Aspas, who had a stint at Liverpool.

They are priced at 11/2 to qualify, while they are 5/1 to just win the game at Old Trafford. If they do win, our money would be on them doing so by a single goal - thus forcing extra-time and maybe even penalties.

Our logic here is that the first-leg wasn't an open affair and Mourinho has a habit of playing defensively in big games - thus if Celta do manage to score, we don't see them doing it more than once.

If you fancy our prediction, it could be worth backing one of the sides to win on penalties. You can get a big price on either side to do it, so it could be well worth a gamble!

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