EUROPE: Diego Martinez’s side also overcame Napoli by a 3-2 aggregate scoreline earlier in the tournament.
Manchester United resume their quest for Europa League success on Thursday when they come up against Granada in the first leg of their quarter-final battle at the Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes.
The Spanish surprise package dumped Molde out of the tournament to advance to the last eight, whereas Man United overcame AC Milan 2-1 on aggregate in the last 16.
Granada’s phenomenal rise to stardom is showing no signs of slowing down, as a 2-0 victory in the first leg of their last-16 battle with Molde gave them a significant advantage heading into the second leg against the Norwegian outfit.
Molde managed to come up trumps 2-1 in that game, but the damage was done in the first leg and the away goal scored by the veteran Roberto Soldado proved pivotal on the night, as Granada ensured that their first-ever season in continental competition would be a memorable one.
Diego Martinez’s side also overcame Napoli by a 3-2 aggregate scoreline earlier in the tournament, but they head into the first leg of their tie with Man United on the back of two successive defeats in La Liga, with Valencia and Villarreal both getting the better of Granada in recent weeks.
Since dropping down from the Champions League, United have only conceded one goal in their four Europa League matches and have been handed a rather favourable draw in the quarter-finals, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer more than anyone will know the dangers of underestimating their opponents this week.
Granada and Man United have never locked horns before, but Solskjaer’s side have scored five and conceded a grand total of zero goals in their two Europa League matches away from home this season, and they will not be prepared to let their clean sheet record slip with European success potentially on the horizon.
Granada manager Martinez is having to work around a mini injury crisis, as he has done for most of the season, and he could be without three of his full-backs in Carlos Neva, Dimitri Foulquier and Quini – the latter of whom is ineligible.
Neyder Lozano is another long-term absentee for the hosts, although he is also ineligible anyway, while his compatriot Luis Suarez has little chance of being fit due to a hamstring problem.
Soldado, therefore, looks set for a reunion with a Premier League side as he leads the line this week, and another familiar face in Kenedy is expected to start out wide for the hosts.
Man United have been rocked by the news that Anthony Martial could miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury, and Marcus Rashford’s involvement is up in the air after he came off injured with a knock against Brighton, although the Englishman has made the journey.
Pogba has previously featured on the left-hand side and could do so again if Rashford is not passed fit, although Daniel James is a more likely candidate for that position having started all four Europa League games so far.
Alex Telles missed out at the weekend through non-COVID related illness and remains a doubt for this game, but Eric Bailly has contracted the virus and is unavailable for the visitors.
Granada possible starting lineup:
Silva; Vallejo, Duarte, Sanchez, Diaz; Gonalons, Eteki; Kenedy, Herrera, Machis; Soldado
United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Fred, Pogba; Greenwood, Fernandes, James; Cavani