Manchester United are just one game away from reaching a European final for the first time in half a decade. Jose Mourinho’s men hold a 1-0 advantage from the first leg against Celta Vigo, and they’ll be looking to avoid complacency from minute one of the return game at Old Trafford.
It’s a fixture that is going to be tight, as the Spanish club will be looking to go out and get at us from the get-go. Thankfully, their offensive-minded tactics should play into our hands and we’ll no doubt get plenty of opportunities to try and hit them on the counter-attack.
Ahead of the match, Wayne Rooney met the media alongside Mourinho, to discuss the match that is in store. The 31-year-old captain has found minutes had to come by this season, but usually, when a player joins the manager in the press conference, those guys usually start the fixture so we’ll just have to see if that rings true tomorrow.
Anyway, it seems clear from Rooney’s response that he really wants to win this tournament, as it’s probably our best hope at reaching the Champions League for next season.
“It’s a massive chance to get to the final,” he told reporters, as per United’s official website. “I think it’s been a long, hard competition this season. We deserve to be here and it’s an opportunity for us to win a trophy, so it’s a huge chance for us.”
“It’s important for us to be back in the Champions League, of course. It’s something we all want and I think this club belongs there. Realistically, it’s going to be difficult to do it through the league so this is the chance for us to do it but also to win a trophy. First of all we have to concentrate on trying to win the trophy and take what comes with it, which of course is qualifying for the Champions League.”
“This is a semi-final, a European semi-final, and it’s the biggest competition we’ve realistically had of winning over the last two or three years. So, we’re taking it really seriously, we want to win it. We’re in a good position, but it’s not over. Nevertheless, we feel we’ve got a good chance of going through to the final if we play to our best.”
If we’re being brutally honest, I think that our hopes of finishing in the top four faded away at the weekend. Arsenal were too strong for a much-changed starting line-up from the Red Devils, and Mourinho made it obvious that he himself is now prioritising the Europa League; as it’s our best chance.
To me, it makes a whole lot of sense. Personally, I’d have liked to see this happen sooner because it always felt like we were playing catch-up in the Premier League, and that’s despite everyone around us dropping points too.
There has been far too many draws, particularly at the Theatre of Dreams and now those have unfortunately come back to haunt us. As Wayne Rooney correctly states, it is all or nothing in our chase to secure our first ever Europa League title.