Favourites United wary of gritty Granada

LONDON • Manchester United have been tagged as favourites to win the Europa League but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer does not believe progression to the May 26 final in Gdansk, Poland is as cut and dry as the pundits and bookmakers say.

Granada stand in the way of a first semi-final appearance in the competition for his team since winning the 2017 edition.

Should United beat their Spanish opponents, they will face either Ajax, who lost to the Red Devils in the final four years ago, or Roma next. But ahead of the away leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie today, Solskjaer is refusing to look past Granada despite their poor form, having lost their past three games in all competitions.

On the hosts, who are ninth in La Liga, he said: "They're full of experience and character which you expect from teams who have been promoted recently (in 2018-19).

"Great season last year and I think they're one of the teams who have played the most games this season."

Granada coach Diego Martinez yesterday ruled out three players - Luis Milla, Alberto Soro and Neyder Lozano - from the first leg, but Solskjaer has his own concerns.

The Norwegian admitted that Anthony Martial's season was more or less done following his injury with France on international duty, while Eric Bailly remains out due to a positive Covid-19 test. Marcus Rashford is set to travel after shaking off a knock but Solskjaer said he was unlikely to risk the forward for the entire game.

Another decision involves who starts in the net for United after Dean Henderson started in place of David de Gea for a seventh straight game at the weekend. Solskjaer revealed the No. 1 jersey will be a decision between the two made on a game-by-game basis.

In the other Europa League last-eight tie involving an English club, Arsenal host Slavia Prague with the knowledge that winning the competition represents their most realistic chance of playing in Europe next season.

Ondrej Kudela will be missing for the Czech champions after being handed a provisional one-game ban as Uefa probe alleged racist abuse made by the defender towards Rangers' Glen Kamara in the previous round. The Gunners have bigger worries after manager Mikel Arteta revealed Kieran Tierney may not play again this term due to a knee injury suffered last Sunday that will rule him out for four to six weeks, while fellow defender David Luiz is also out after undergoing knee surgery.



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 08, 2021, with the headline 'Favourites United wary of gritty Granada'. Subscribe