Manchester United's maiden Europa League title

Would this be Manchester United’s maiden Europa League title?

Get in here you Manchester United faithful and let’s discuss your European title possibilities this year.

As we all know, one of the greatest football clubs in English football is Manchester United – without much argument. Manchester United is the first English football club to compete in the Champions League, then known as the European cup. And in 1968, Manchester United became the first English football club to win a European title. So we won’t talk much about Manchester United’s pedigree – the Red Devils are amongst the elite. We’ll focus more on the chances and possibilities before the Red Army this year.

At the start of this season, Manchester United employed the services of Jose Mourinho, who had previously been fired by Chelsea. The Portuguese manager was saddled with the responsibility of galvanising a Manchester United squad that was looking a bit lacklustre after some rigid tutelage from Louis van-Gaal.

Louis van-Gaal had failed to help Manchester United qualify for the Champions League, however, the Red Devils had finished 5th in the 2015/2016 Premier League season and had won the FA Cup. This meant that Manchester United had qualified to compete in the Europa League for the 2016-17 season.

Manchester United first tested the waters of Europa League football in 2012 – Manchester United fans can still remember vividly. The Manchester United squad, led by Sir Alex Ferguson had crashed out of the Champions League group stage; however, since they had finished 3rd in their group, they were allowed to enter the Europa League round of 16. Unfortunately, the Red Devils were booted out from the competition by eventual finalists, Athletic Bilbao.

An opportunity to right the wrongs of 2012 hit-n-miss now presents itself in 2017. Manchester United, now managed by Jose Mourinho have enjoyed a rollercoaster ride to the quarter-finals where they have been paired to play against Belgian side, Anderlecht. Considering Manchester United’s form in the competition this term, there’s little threat the Belgian side can pose. Will this be a first UEFA Europa League title in the kitty for Manchester United?

Manchester United’s route to quarter-final

On their way to the quarter-finals, Manchester United have played 10 games, won 7, drawn once and lost twice. The Red Devils have scored a total of 18 goals and conceded 5 goals. After finishing second to Fenerbahçe in group A, Manchester United was paired against Saint-Étienne in the round of 32. The Red Devils dispatched the French Ligue 1 side with ease; overcoming them 4-0 on aggregate.

Manchester United then faced Rostov in the round of 16, a tie which they scrappily won 2-1 on aggregate. Up next for Man United is Anderlecht in the quarter-finals. Manchester United have some history with Anderlecht, by the way. The Red Devils had defeated their Belgian opponents 12-0 on aggregate in their maiden appearance in the European Cup in 1956. The 10-0 return leg victory to Anderlecht in the return leg of that tie remains a club record till today. Since then, Manchester United have not lost to Anderlecht in five other meetings. This would be the 7th meeting between Manchester United and Anderlecht.

Who is Manchester United’s biggest threat to the title?

Having ruled out the possibility of Anderlecht stopping Manchester United on their way to their maiden Europa League title, who else could stop the Red Devils?

The winner of the Ajax v Schalke tie

Whoever emerges victorious in the tie between Ajax and Schalke could prove to be the banana peel for a Manchester United team who are so fatigued, Jose Mourinho has to feed his players some bananas before they can win a game.

I wouldn’t stick out my nose for any winner between the two, however, both Ajax (who are in contention for another Eredivisie title) and Schalke are very good European teams who could prevent Manchester United from reaching or lifting the title in Stockholm's Friends Arena, where a statue is being erected in honor of Manchester United’s striker, Zlatan Ibrahimović.

The winner of the Lyon v Besiktas tie

Can Lyon or Besiktas upset Manchester United in the Europa League? I certainly think so. Olympique Lyon for one is not doing too badly this year. They are 4th in Ligue 1 and the fact that the dumped Roma out of the competition should keep everyone on their toes.

These teams should give Manchester United a run for their money, but I’m certainly not expecting an upset. The Red Devils should add a Europa League crown to their trophy chest come May – a first in their history.

About the Author Kingsley

I am a football/soccer connoisseur who enjoys crafting interesting articles like the one you just read.

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