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Can Jose Mourinho deliver Manchester United the Europa League?

Tuesday 25th April 2017
The Red Devils continued their European adventure with a nervous 2-1 win at home to Anderlecht. Will Jose Mourinho deliver Manchester United the Europa League trophy this season?
United took the game to Anderlecht, dominating possession from start to finish but lacked the cutting edge to kill off the Belgians. That was until Marcus Rashford scored in extra time to restore his side's lead with a touch of brilliance inside the box. The victory booked United's place in the Europa League semi-finals.

United's Europa League progress is significant. They are aiming to qualify for the UEFA Champions League and may fail to do so based on their Premier League position. The Red Devils will be determined to play in Europe's elite club competition next season. They took a step closer to achieving that feat by overcoming Anderlecht at Old Trafford.

Previously in the competition, Jose Mourinho's side defeated FC Rostov 1-0 at home. They were held to a 1-1 draw in Russia, both United and Rostov were unconvincing on that occasion. Then, with the aid of talismanic forward Zlatan Ibrahimović, they were able to beat Saint-Etienne 3-0 at the Theatre of Dreams. The Swede bagged a hat-trick to down the French side.

However, in this season's Europa League, Jose Mourinho's men have struggled at times. They lost twice in the group stages: first to Feyenoord and more recently in a tepid display against Fenerbahçe. United recovered to record a 1-0 home win over Ukrainian side FC Zorya Luhansk. Ibrahimović popped up with the winner.
Jose Mourinho's Manchester United have it all to do if they are to achieve their dreams of winning the Europa League this season. In terms of players, United have quality in abundance but they must respond positively on the pitch to lift their side to the trophy. The club's faithful are patiently dreaming of the title.

Mourinho will be pleased up to now as his side progressed to the next round. However, tougher games await the Red Devils. They were drawn against Celta Vigo in the Europa League semi-finals. Manchester United face a stern test from a side who are 10th in La Liga.  The modest Spanish club have won 4 of their last 10 games in the league.

Celta Vigo possess the attacking talent of Iago Aspas. He will be a threat to United's Europa League dreams as he's scored against top sides like Barcelona and Real Madrid this term. The first leg will take place in Spain at the Balaidos Stadium. After struggling against Spanish opposition in recent times, United have it all to do to beat the La Liga side. They must improve to overcome the opposition on their way to the final.

Meanwhile, the other semi-final sees Dutch giants Ajax Amsterdam take on French side Olympic Lyonnais. The first leg to be played at the Amsterdam Arena. Ajax have the likes of Chelsea loanee Bertrand Traore to count on; Lyon will be banking on the forward runs of French striker Alexandre Lacazette, who scored against Beşiktaş in the quarter-final stage.

The French side's resilience was evident when they defeated Besiktas in a penalty shoot-out. They overcame the attacking threat of former Liverpool forward Ryan Babel, as well as the attacking forays of Portuguese star Ricardo Quaresma and Brazilian forward Anderson Talisca. Lyon's form could spell doom for United's Europa League aspirations.
Mourinho's men will have it all to do without star forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic. It looks like United may be walking a tightrope. The possibility of winning the trophy is beginning to look bleak.

The big question remains, will Jose Mourinho gift Manchester United the Europa League trophy? It is still achievable as they have the class and pedigree to do so. They must make an effort to cast away any doubts by displaying positive performances when they file out for the competition's remaining games.
Obiweluozo Martins

A passionate sports writer who looks around the world for football matches. I follow the major leagues in Europe and of course the Champions League. I'm also a lover of International football as well as watching the beautiful game from South America and Africa.

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