Granada vs Manchester United | Thursday 8th April 2021, 20:00 | BT Sport
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his men travel to the Estadio Nuevo Los Cármenes to take on surprise package Granada in this quarter-final, first leg.
Granada’s domestic season has somewhat fizzled out. They sit just inside the top half but have nothing else to really play for and as such, their eyes are fixed firmly on this competition. They’ve lost their last three games but prior to those, they had won four home games on the spin – including one over Real Sociedad who United sent packing earlier on the competition.
United have been consistently picking up results after a wobbly start to the campaign and currently occupy the second spot in the league. They’re desperate to win trophies and see the UEL as the ideal place to start.
● Seen 2+ yellow cards in 4/5 home UEL games this season.
● In those games, the opposition has seen 2+ yellow cards in all five.
● Their opponents have seen 14+ free-kicks in 8/10 UEL games this season.
● Their opponents have seen under nine corners in 9/10 UEL games this season.
● Won the first leg in both ties against Napoli and Molde respectively.
● Have lost their last three games.
● Granada could be missing up to six players through injury when they face Manchester United on Thursday.
● Jesus Vallejo may be required at right-back if Dimitri Foulquier is unavailable.
● Former Tottenham striker Roberto Soldado will lead the line for the Spanish side. He has failed to score in three previous matches against United.
● Have seen 2+ cards in 2/5 away European Cup games.
● In those games, the opposition has seen 2+ on 3/5 occasions.
● Have been awarded 14+ free-kicks in 9/10 European Cup games this season.
● Have seen under nine corners in 9/10 European Cup Games this season.
● Are undefeated in 25 of their last 27 matches.
● Under 2.5 goals have been scored in their last three games.
● Anthony Martial is ruled out for Manchester United with a knee injury sustained for France during the international break.
● Marcus Rashford limped off against Brighton after a knock to his ankle but was able to train on Wednesday and has travelled to Spain.
● Juan Mata and Alex Telles are also in the squad after recovering from injury and illness, respectively, but Eric Bailly has tested positive for COVID-19 and misses out.
● Dean Henderson now appears to be United's first-choice goalkeeper so it is likely David de Gea will rotate into the side for the Europa League.
● United face Tottenham on Sunday so Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may consider some changes here with Dan James, Alex Telles and Scott McTominay likely to come into the side.
Referee: Artur Manuel Soares Dias
● Averages 4.32 yellow cards per game this season.
● Averages 27.36 fouls per game this season overall.
My first pick is for Manchester United to be awarded 14+ free kicks in the game. Granada has absolutely nothing else to play for domestically and will be putting their all into this competition. They’re the surprise package of this competition but they shouldn’t be taken lightly – they’ve already dumped Napoli and Molde out of the competition and did so by winning the first leg.
Bet365 count offsides towards the free kick count and as such there are some nice lines in the betbuilder section.
Looking at the data, Granada’s opposition in the Europa League have seen 14+ free-kicks in eight of the ten games played meanwhile United have been awarded 14+ in nine of their ten European fixtures this season.
I feel there is a disparity in ability when looking at these two sides and United will look to repeat the way they dispatched of Sociedad, by getting it done early. As such I see Granada looking to break up attacks early and make it a rough game, by committing a number of cynical tackles.
As I mentioned, offsides count here and United’s opponents in Europe this season have been caught offside an awful lot – in the last round, AC Milan were caught offside nine times over two legs against the Red Devils and with Granada looking to try and gain the advantage in the first leg yet again, expect the linesman to be flagging the Nazaríes offside a few times.
My second pick somewhat follows on from the first and is a great price. I’ve already gone through the reasoning as to why i think the visitors will see a high number of free kicks. This is somewhat of a price play as the odds would suggest an implied probability of 43.5%. However, this has landed in 60% of their UEL games this season and also in 70% of Manchester United’s European matches.
As such, there is value in that price.