The Red Devils were second best for the first 45 minutes of their battle with Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday night, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men turned the screw in the second half to run out 2-1 winners in a hard-fought Premier League contest.
After Danny Welbeck once again returned to Old Trafford to haunt his former club, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood popped up with vital strikes in the second period to extend Man United’s unbeaten run in the Premier League to 10 matches, although they have very little to play for domestically as Manchester City are 14 points clear at the summit.
As a result, the Europa League is without question Solskjaer’s best opportunity to claim his first piece of silverware in the Old Trafford dugout, and the Norwegian had Paul Pogba to thank in their last-16 battle with AC Milan, as the Frenchman’s winner at San Siro propelled the Red Devils to a 2-1 aggregate triumph.
Since dropping down from the Champions League, United have only conceded one goal in their four Europa League matches and have been handed a rather favourable draw in the quarter-finals, but Solskjaer more than anyone will know the dangers of underestimating their opponents this week.
Granada and Man United have never locked horns before, but Solskjaer’s side have scored five and conceded a grand total of zero goals in their two Europa League matches away from home this season, and they will not be prepared to let their clean sheet record slip with European success potentially on the horizon.
Granada manager Martinez is having to work around a mini injury crisis, as he has done for most of the season, and he could be without three of his full-backs in Carlos Neva, Dimitri Foulquier and Quini – the latter of whom is ineligible.
Neyder Lozano is another long-term absentee for the hosts, although he is also ineligible anyway, while his compatriot Luis Suarez has little chance of being fit due to a hamstring problem.
Soldado therefore looks set for a reunion with a Premier League side as he leads the line this week, and another familiar face in Kenedy is expected to start out wide for the hosts.
Man United have been rocked by the news that Anthony Martial could miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury, and Marcus Rashford’s involvement is up in the air after he came off injured with a knock against Brighton, although the Englishman has made the journey.
Pogba has previously featured on the left-hand side and could do so again if Rashford is not passed fit, although Daniel James is a more likely candidate for that position having started all four Europa League games so far.
Alex Telles missed out at the weekend through non-COVID related illness and remains a doubt for this game, but Eric Bailly has contracted the virus and is unavailable for the visitors.
Granada possible starting lineup:
Silva; Vallejo, Duarte, Sanchez, Diaz; Gonalons, Eteki; Kenedy, Herrera, Machis; Soldado
Manchester United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Fred, Pogba; Greenwood, Fernandes, James; Cavani