The Premier League’s race for Champions League qualification is still very much alive, though we’re at the stage of the Europa League where every remaining team is in it to win it. Manchester United travel to Spain to face Celta Vigo in the first leg of their semifinal on Thursday, and a very tough game is anticipated. Here are the three men that José Mourinho will be most anxious to keep quiet:
Iago Aspas, attacker
Iago Aspas pulled up absolutely no trees during his two-year stint at Liverpool, failing to score a single league goal in 14 appearances for the Merseysiders. But since returning whence he came, the 29-year-old attacker has set La Liga alight, and has netted a combined total of 31 league goals over the last couple of seasons. He was handed his full international debut last year, and has gone on to pick up three caps for his national side so far. He’s expected to start out on the right flank against United, a position from which he's scored plenty so far this campaign. He’s certainly not a natural winger, but United will have to be wary of his darting runs into goalscoring positions.
Daniel Wass, midfielder
The two holding midfielders in Celta Vigo’s 4-2-3-1 tend to be rather defensively-minded, which means the lion’s share of the creative burden falls on the shoulders of Danish playmaker Daniel Wass. He's been Celta's creator-in-chief so far this season, and chipped in with a few goals of his own. United will have to be sure to deny him space in which to work. Wass is also something of a free-kick specialist, notably scoring this absolute belter when he was plying his trade for Evian in France. The odds of him executing a similar strike on Thursday are slim, but it’d probably be wise to avoid temptation.
The final name on our list is a short one. Jonny, or Jonathan Castro Otto, has been deployed on both sides of Celta Vigo’s defence so far this season, though he’s expected to be their left-back on Thursday. He's still only 23, yet has been a first-team fixture for three years, and made his first team debut way back in 2012. He’s not particularly physically imposing, but his positional and possessional capabilities earned him the attention of Barcelona in January, after their first-choice right-back Aleix Vidal was ruled out for the remainder of the season. United will certainly have to be wary of his runs from deep.
And finally ...
One Celta Vigo dangerman not set to face United is one of our former players. Giuseppe Rossi joined the Spanish side on loan from Fiorentina in the summer, and scored four goals in 18 league appearances — a tally that looks rather more impressive when you consider only half of those were starts. Alas, the injury-plagued attacker suffered a remarkable fourth ACL tear against Eibar last month, and is out for the foreseeable future. He’s a very good player when fit; unfortunately for Rossi, that hasn’t proved all too often.