Manchester United will face Belgian side Anderlecht in the last eight of the Europa League.
Jose Mourinho’s team battled through to the quarter-finals after edging out Rostov 2-1 on aggregate in the last 16.
Anderlecht v Manchester United
FACT: Anderlecht last played English opposition in last season’s group stage, losing 2-1 at Tottenham having won by the same scoreline at home. Overall the Belgian side’s home record against English clubs is W6 D3 L7; in England, however, they have suffered 13 defeats and picked up only two draws in their 15 visits.
FACT: United and Anderlecht’s previous meetings include a 10-0 defeat for the visitors in Manchester – in a game played at Maine Road, the former home of United’s local rivals Manchester City – in the 1956/57 European Champions Clubs’ Cup preliminary round, still Anderlecht’s record European defeat. United won that tie 12-0 on aggregate.
FACT: Anderlecht v United pits together Sweden strikers new and old: Isaac Kiese Thelin and Zlatan Ibrahimović.
FACT: United’s last visit to Belgium brought a 4-0 victory at Club Brugge in the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League play-off second leg, completing a 7-1 aggregate triumph. The English side have won two and lost two of their four trips to Belgium; at home, they have won all four games. United have scored 18 goals in their three home games against Anderlecht, conceding only one.
FACT: Anderlecht have won three and lost three of their six games against Manchester United, but the the English side have scored 22 goals in those contests to Anderlecht’s six.
— Henrikh Mkhitaryan (@HenrikhMkh) March 17, 2017
Celta Vigo v Genk
FACT: Genk have already lost in Spain this season, going down 5-3 at Atletic Club in the group stage with home striker Artiz Aduriz becoming the first player to score five goals in a UEFA Europa League match. The Belgian side did win 2-0 at home, though, and are unbeaten against Liga opposition in their own ground (W1 D3); in Spain, their record is W0 D1 L3.
FACT: Celta have played Belgian opposition only twice before, drawing 1-1 away and at home against Club Brugge in the 2003/04 UEFA Champions League group stage.
FACT: Celta’s pairing with Genk will have special meaning for the Spanish side’s Belgian youngster Theo Bongonda. The Under-21 international won three and drew once in four appearances for Zulte-Waregem against Genk, scoring once.
FACT: Genk will not have to search long for inside information on Celta. They signed Spanish youngster José Naranjo from the Liga side during the winter and, though the 22-year-old is ineligible having already featured in the UEFA Europa League for Celta this season, he’ll be a useful man to have around.
Borja Oubiña, Celta representative: “It’s a pleasure to be here. We want to carry on competing and go through against a difficult opponent. We have experience of playing against a Belgian side, who made life difficult for us. It will be tough, but we will fight and have our chances.
“They’re a side with good, young players. They’ve come on well during the Europa League and they got through their last tie well. They’re a tough opponent with a lot of potential. We will have to fight. We are happy with our season. Up to now it has been brilliant and we want to go one step further. We want to get to the next level. We have the humility and ambition to do so.”
Ajax v Schalke
— Klaas Jan Huntelaar (@KJ_Huntelaar) March 17, 2017
FACT: Ajax’s last encounter with German opposition was a 4-1 home defeat against Borussia Dortmund in the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League group stage – a rare aberration in their home form against Bundesliga clubs, where they have won 12 of their 14 contests.
FACT: Schalke’s eight games against Dutch sides have ended W3 D1 L4 (W3 D0 L0 at home – W0 D1 L4 in the Netherlands). All three of those home wins have come by three-goal margins.
Lyon v Besiktas
FACT: Lyon have not played Turkish opposition since beating Fenerbahçe 3-1 away and 4-2 at home in the 2004/05 UEFA Champions League group stage. The French club’s record against Turkish teams is W5 D1 L4 (W3 D0 L2 at home; W2 D1 L2 away).
Ahmet Nur Çebi, Beşiktaş vice-president: “We have to eliminate Lyon to continue on our way. I am not pessimistic. Beşiktaş are a very strong team. Two top-class teams have been paired with each other. These will be entertaining matches. I am sure that Lyon are also saying: ‘How on earth have we got Beşiktaş – why did we get them?’ They will not be happy either. It’s an early final. Getting this far was not easy. It’s a result of a five-year strategy. The return leg will be at home. You know our fans are our 12th player. They will handle this matter.”
12.09: The balls are dropped into the big bowl. Andersson flexes his hand and prepares for action.
12.06: Ian Rush has been deposed after his Champions League draw efforts – Patrick Andersson will do this draw. Bit of banter between him and Giorgio Marchetti. Bant city… smalltalksville.
12.04: I suspect messrs Pinto, Marchetti and Rush will be handling matters yet again. I am right – the road to Stockholm continues…
12.02: The Europa League collage is under way, a round-up of wet and cold Thursdays throughout Europe since last August…
With a place in the Champions League up for grabs for the winners, the Europa League now becomes sexy.
And how Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho would LOVE to win it and take the pressure off trying to clinch a place in the Premier League top four.
The Reds edged out Rostov 2-1 on aggregate to make the quarter-finals and will discover their opponents in Nyon from midday.
The teams in the hat are…
Manchester United (England)
Celta Vigo (Spain)
Stayed tuned here to see Manchester United Europa League fate unveiled from midday.