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Preview: Manchester United vs. Granada - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's Europa League clash between Manchester United and Granada, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Manchester United will hope to ease into the semi-finals of the Europa League when they welcome Granada to Old Trafford for the second leg of their quarter-final tie on Thursday night.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side have one foot firmly in the final four after a 2-0 first leg win in Spain, during which Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes struck either side of the half-time whistle.

Match preview

Manchester United's Fred celebrates scoring against Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on April 11, 2021© Reuters

Amid tensions off the pitch between Jose Mourinho and Solskjaer over the necessity of trophies for success, the Norwegian took one step closer to that illustrious first piece of silverware in the Man United dugout as Rashford and Fernandes ensured that the Red Devils would take a comfortable first-leg lead into Thursday's game at Old Trafford.

After dropping down from the Champions League in somewhat disastrous fashion, the Red Devils are certainly regarded as the favourites to go all the way in this season's Europa League, and fans are licking their lips at the prospect of a potential all-English final between Man United and Arsenal on May 26.

Solskjaer has recent experience in getting one over North London clubs, as his side avenged their 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur by beating them 3-1 in the capital at the weekend, during which Fred, Edinson Cavani and the resurgent Mason Greenwood all netted after Scott McTominay's opener was controversially ruled out.

The Red Devils have now won their last three on the bounce and welcome Granada to Old Trafford on an eight-game unbeaten streak on home soil, although they could only muster draws with Real Sociedad and AC Milan in Manchester during the previous rounds.

However, United have progressed on all 21 occasions when they have won the first leg of a European tie away from home, and they have only shipped one goal in their five Europa League matches since dropping down from the Champions League, so barring a total collapse, Solskjaer's side should inch ever closer to that long-awaited continental crown this week.

Granada manager Diego Martinez pictured on January 9, 2021© Reuters

Granada continue to defy the odds both domestically and continentally - a testament to their meteoric rise in the past few years - but Diego Martinez's side are now staring down the barrel of defeat after being outclassed and outfought on their own turf.

Defeat to the Red Devils marked a fourth loss in a row across all competitions for the La Liga surprise package, but they at least managed to get back on track at the weekend with a 2-1 comeback success over strugglers Real Valladolid courtesy of goals from Jorge Molina and Quini.

Martinez's side have lost ground in the race for Europe domestically, though, and they had failed to win any of their last five away from home before scraping past Valladolid, so a second consecutive season in the Europa League is surely a bridge too far for the inconsistent Granada, unless they can somehow defy the odds in Manchester.

Despite failing to breach the Red Devils' defence in the first leg, Granada have managed to score at least once in their last 12 away matches in all competitions, but their solitary strikes against Napoli and Molde in the previous rounds could not save them from inconsequential 2-1 defeats away from home earlier this year.

Granada's fellow Spaniards Sevilla are the only side since 2009 to progress in the Europa League after losing the first leg at home by a two-goal margin, and while stepping out onto the Old Trafford turf will be a momentous occasion for everyone associated with the club, the European chapter in Granada's history book will surely come to a close here.

Manchester United Europa League form:
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • W

Manchester United form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W

Granada Europa League form:
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • L

Granada form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • W

Team News

Harry Maguire in action for Manchester United on March 11, 2021© Reuters

Man United trio Luke Shaw, Scott McTominay and Harry Maguire all picked up bookings in the first-leg victory, and the trio are suspended for the second leg to add to Solskjaer's growing absentee list.

Eric Bailly remains sidelined with coronavirus, while Anthony Martial and Phil Jones are out for the long-term, and it remains to be seen if Daniel James will be cleared to play after an injury in Spain ruled him out of the win over Tottenham.

Axel Tuanzebe and Alex Telles are expected to deputise in the rearguard for Maguire and Shaw, while a possible recall for Nemanja Matic in midfield could push Paul Pogba out to the left flank once again, especially with Marcus Rashford also doubtful due to a foot problem.

Granada must work around their own suspensions as Domingos Duarte and Yan Eteki have now been cautioned three times in the tournament, although the latter would have struggled to displace Yangel Herrera or Maxime Gonalons in the first XI.

Duarte's spot in defence should be filled by German Sanchez, and while the visitors' injury crisis has eased recently, Luis Milla and Neyder Lozano still occupy spots in the medical room.

Luis Suarez has made two appearances off the bench since returning from injury and is a candidate to spearhead the attack on Thursday, but Roberto Soldado is back from a domestic ban and will relish the opportunity to step foot on English soil once again.

Manchester United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Tuanzebe, Telles; Fred, Matic; Greenwood, Fernandes, Pogba; Cavani

Granada possible starting lineup:
Silva; Foulquier, Sanchez, Vallejo, Neva; Herrera, Gonalons; Puertas, Montoro, Machis; Suarez

SM words green background

We say: Manchester United 2-1 Granada

Granada need not take any lessons in putting the ball into the back of the net on unfamiliar territory, and a reshuffled Red Devils rearguard could have Martinez eyeing a spectacular turnaround in the tie. However, an in-form United - albeit one bedevilled by injuries and suspensions - should have too much quality for their inconsistent visitors, so we can only envisage a comfortable second-leg triumph for Solskjaer's men on their way to the semi-finals.

Top tip

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Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer pictured on March 18, 2021
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