The Europa League returns on Thursday. In Spain, Granada will play host to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United (3pm ET) at Nuevo Estadio de Los Cármenes. Can the hosts put their recent domestic woes aside and claim a big scalp on the continent?
Read on for our Granada vs Man Utd predictions with full match preview and betting picks.
Granada, who currently sit in a rather respectable 9th position in La Liga, come into this fixture out of sorts. Since going through against Molde in the previous round, despite a 2-1 defeat in the second leg, Thursday’s hosts have struggled to get going. Their recent defeat away to Valencia was a narrow one, though they were well beaten by top-six chasers Villarreal at this venue just a few days ago, conceding three goals and scoring none in the process. This huge European occasion will no doubt have been on the minds of both the players and the manager, who did indeed select a side with this fixture in mind. Improvements will need to be found if they are to cut it with a side that has already made light work of beating Spanish opposition in the knockout rounds.
On the face of it, Manchester United have been in good form of late, at least that’s what three wins in their last four suggests. However, they only narrowly beat Brighton last time out, while they were quite comfortably bettered by Leicester prior to that. Single-goal wins over both West Ham and AC Milan in this competition prior to that didn’t exactly leave the greatest impression either. It’s fair to say that United have done a better job of getting the required results than their Spanish counterparts have of late, though they certainly don’t come into this game flying.
Starting to struggle against the big boys?
Granada have been able to maintain a top half position this term thanks mainly to their form on home soil. Seventy five percent of their total points have come at Nuevo Estadio de Los Cármenes, though they did not exactly cover themselves in glory against the top sides recently. Back at the start of the campaign, Granada got the better of Sevilla at this venue, while they beat Betis at home too. Both of those sides currently reside in the top five in La Liga. However, they’ve since lost three out of three against top-six teams at home, losing to Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Villarreal, conceding nine and scoring just one in the process. Such form doesn’t exactly bode well ahead of a match against the team that sits second in the Premier League.
Man United strong against Spaniards
Since 2013, Man Utd have played away against Spanish opposition on seven occasions. They have lost two of those seven. Most recently, they made light work of beating Real Sociedad by four goals to nil in the last-32 of this competition, though on that occasion, the Spanish side didn’t have the advantage of playing at home as the match took place on neutral ground.
In this competition in general, the team that look set to claim a silver medal in the Premier League title race have been hard to fault. They made light work of brushing aside Sociedad before delivering a rather astute effort to get the better of an AC Milan side filled with talent. In four knockout matches, they have conceded just a single goal, which has no doubt played a part in their short odds ahead of this fixture.
Where’s the bet?
As touched on in this preview above, Manchester United have made light work of beating two solid teams to reach this stage of the competition, while their position in the Premier League is far more flattering than Granada’s in Spain. A combination of these two facts, plus the general stature of the two clubs, accounts for the heavy favoritism that the English side must shoulder ahead of this fixture.
Having said that, at the betting odds, the visitors make little appeal. One bet that does catch the eye is ‘Both Teams to Score’ (BTTS). United have conceded very few goals since dropping out of the Champions League and into the Europa League, but they don’t exactly come here in great defensive shape having conceded against Brighton last time out, as well as shipping three at Leicester the week before.
Moreover, Granada have scored in five of their last six at home, and have done so against some strong opposition, including both Atletico Madrid (league) and Barcelona (cup). They failed to notch against Villarreal last time out at this venue but could certainly count themselves unlucky having created 1.8 expected goals for. Combine this with the fact that they’ve kept just one clean sheet in their last six at home, conceding a total of 11 goals, and ‘Both Teams to Score’ begins to make sense at appealing odds. So this is the betting prediction and pick for this Granada vs MUFC preview: