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Manchester United v Anderlecht: Hosts to advance, but it won't be pretty

Jose Mourinho's Manchester United are still on course to win the tournament
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After successfully laying Manchester United in Belgium last week, Kevin Hatchard now expects them to reach the semi-finals, but he's not anticipating many goals at Old Trafford...


"Nine of United's last 11 home games have featured fewer than three goals, and I can't imagine that Anderlecht will open up too early in the match."

Back Under 2.5 Goals at [2.38]

Manchester United v Anderlecht
Thursday 20 April, 20:05
Live on BT Sport 2


Manchester United

After pulling off arguably their best result of the season, a 2-0 Premier League win over title-chasing Chelsea, Manchester United are now aiming to maintain their other route to next season's Champions League, which is winning the Europa League. Of course, winning a major continental trophy is motivation enough, but a golden ticket attached doesn't do any harm.

United had a few struggles getting out of the group stage, but in the knockout phase they haven't looked likely to be eliminated. They swept aside Saint Etienne, winning home and away. After a creditable 1-1 draw at Rostov, they won the return leg 1-0, and in the quarter-finals they face a similar task. Anderlecht pegged the Red Devils back with a late equaliser in Brussels, and now United must try to finish off the Belgian league leaders at Old Trafford.

United have every reason to be confident, given their home record. They have won all five of their Europa League matches so far at Old Trafford, and they haven't lost a home game in any competition since a derby defeat to Manchester City back in September.

After a mini-break (as in a small rest, he didn't pop down to Cornwall), Zlatan Ibrahimovic is expected to return to the starting 11. Henrikh Mkhitaryan could also return to the team, while Jesse Lingard is expected to be fit for selection after a foot injury.


Anderlecht

After holding United to a draw after Leander Dendoncker's late header, Anderlecht know they have now given themselves an opportunity to book a semi-final spot. Given that Rene Weiler's side are also on course to win the Belgian title, it's shaping up to be quite a season.

Anderlecht are pretty solid defensively, and have only lost once away from home in this season's Europa League. That was a 3-1 defeat at Zenit that saw Les Mauves et Blancs knock out the Russian giants on away goals.

At some stage, Weiler will have to push his men forward, as Anderlecht must score at least once to progress. That said, there is no need to take any early risks, and the visitors may look to just hang in there for a while, just as they did last week. With defensive strongman Kara Mbodji leading the back four, and energetic youngsters Dendoncker and Youri Tielemans providing cover from midfield, Anderlecht will look to frustrate.

The return to full fitness of top scorer Lukasz Teodorcyzk gives Anderlecht some punch in attack, while winger Andy Najar is the only real injury doubt.


Match Odds

United are clear favourites here at [1.28], and with Opta telling us that Anderlecht have never won in England, it's not hard to see why. However, there is evidence to suggest this won't be a battering for Weiler's side. United have only won three of their last eight home games by two goals or more, while Anderlecht have only lost by a two-goal margin twice this term.

You could back Anderlecht +1.5 on the Asian Handicap at [1.97], which means you'll have a winner unless the Belgian side are beaten by a margin of two goals or greater.


Over/Under 2.5 Goals

Unders is trading at [2.38] here, and I must admit it's an attractive price. Nine of United's last 11 home games have featured fewer than three goals, and with the tie still quite evenly poised, I'm not expecting a slugfest. United have kept nine clean sheets in their last 12 outings at Old Trafford, and that further convinces me to go for Under 2.5 Goals.


To Score

You can't keep Zlatan Ibrahimovic out of the limelight for long, and he is a prohibitively short [1.49] to find the net in 90 minutes. Paul Pogba spurned a good chance in the first leg, and has only scored once in 2017, but if you think he can end that drought, he's trading at [3.2].

Teodorcyzk is by far Anderlecht's biggest goal threat, and he can be backed to score at [3.45].


Recommended Bet

Back Under 2.5 Goals at [2.38]


2016-17 Europa League Knockout Phase P/L

Points Staked: 32

Points Returned: 33.27

P/L: +1.27 points

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