Manchester United has been drawn against Belgian side Anderlecht in the last eight of the Europa League. The unseeded draw could have placed the Reds against any of the remaining seven teams however most United fans will be quite happy with the outcome. The first leg will be played in Belgium with the return at Old Trafford the following week. United fans and players alike will prefer it that way. In my eyes it’s a reasonably comfortable draw, I think the most uncomfortable tie would have been against Besiktas and the most difficult would have arguably been Lyon. However with Lyon knocking Roma out in the last round, I anticipate, should everything go to plan, we will see them in Sweden for the final.
Anderlecht found themselves in the Europa League after being losing their Champions League third qualifying round. They went on to finish second in Group C to St Etienne, who United knocked out in the first knockout stage. Anderlecht scored vital away goals to take down Zenit St. Petersburg in their first knockout round and then dispatched Cypriot side Apoel Nicosia 2-0 on aggregate in the round of 16.
The two teams had previously met six times. All in the Champions League with United holding a 4-2 advantage in games. The last meeting between both clubs was back in October 2000 where Anderlecht ran out 2-1 winners in the group stage. Don’t worry though, we destroyed them 5-1 at Old Trafford a month before. But this is football, and unsurprisingly, matches 17 years ago don’t affect matches in the present day.
Rene Weiler’s men will be spearheaded by midfield starlet Youri Tielemans, who is a household name for anyone who has ever played FIFA for a reasonable amount of time. The young centre mid is a real talent and I’m definitely excited to see him play live in the return leg at Old Trafford. I will be watching them closely over the next couple of weeks as I haven’t seen a whole lot in terms of their play style so you’ll have to hold off a moment for a more in depth look at the Belgians.
United team selection will be interesting given the Reds host Chelsea in the Premier League between the two Europa League ties. Mourinho has good squad depth and it will be put to the test over those two weeks. We can only wait and see what will happen.