Are Celta Vigo a Blessing in Disguise?

UEFA Europa League

Manchester United will face Celta Vigo in the semi-finals of the UEFA Europa League. The first leg on May 4 will be an away leg, with the returning leg will take place at Old Trafford on May 11. United apparently have the easiest draw, since they’ve managed to avoid the high-flying Ajax and Lyon. I personally feel that we’ve dodged a bullet by avoiding those two teams, who have been the favourites, alongside United, to lift the trophy ever since the beginning. There should now be no problems for us to advance to the final in Stockholm.

Spain’s sole representative in the Europa League, Celta finished second in their group, which also comprised of Standard Liege, Ajax and Panathinaikos. They defeated Shakhtar Donetsk in the knockout round and then thrashed FC Krasnodar in the Round of 16. Finally, they beat KRC Genk 4-3 on aggregate in the Quarter Finals, after drawing the second leg 1-1 against the Belgian side which is now being managed by Louis van Gaal’s former assistant, Albert Stuivenberg.

Celta Vigo have never faced Manchester United before, and thus remains somewhat of an unknown entity. In European competitions, Celta have a mixed record against English sides. They’ve won 5 and lost 4 matches. The last time they faced an English side was in the Intertoto Cup in 2000 when they thrashed Aston Villa 3-1. Celta finished 9th in La Liga last season, and are currently 10th this season.

The danger man for Eduardo Berizzo’s men is former Liverpool flop Iago Aspas, who’s had a dramatic turnaround in his career. He has scored 23 times for the Spaniards this season, including 5 goals in the Europa League. Another one to watch out for is John Guidetti. The former Manchester City striker has seven goals in all competitions this season, including 4 in the Europa League. Ex-Manchester United striker Guiseppe Rossi, who’s now plying his trade at Celta, is injured for the remainder of the season.

Manchester United will have to be wary of the Spanish team, who are completely focused on the Europa League, particularly because they’re 10th in the La Liga currently, and do not have any domestic worries. United, on the other hand, have a very important match against Arsenal, which is sandwiched between the two legs against Celta. Not only that, they face Tottenham just 68 hours after the second leg. This would make Mourinho’s team selection fairly interesting, as he has a limited squad available due to the injury crisis. However, I still feel that this should be an easy task for United and that they would progress to the final comfortably.