Old Trafford has seen 10 league draws this season. That means, of the 18 Premier League games played there this season, over half have ended in stalemate. That ability to edge out wins at home, more than anything else this season, is what will probably cost Manchester United a top four spot. Especially as only two teams can boast better away records.
And yet one more home draw could well be enough to secure a Champions League spot provided United can win their second trophy of the season.
There’s also an irony in United’s performance in Europe this season, too. When Jose Mourinho took over in the summer, he declared the Europa League a competition he didn’t even want to take part in – and not many United fans would have felt differently. Now it can salvage the season. And not just this season: the next one, too.
Europe has also been the refuge of United’s home form, too. Apart from the second leg against Anderlecht in the last round – which was drawn in 90 minutes and finally won in extra time – United have won every home game in the competition. And yet in the group stage, it was the away form that, until the final few games, threatened to send United crashing out before the knockout rounds. The only two games Mourinho’s side have lost in the entire competition this season have been away from home.
And yet, Celta themselves have almost the opposite record in the knockout stages. They only have to look back to their round of 32 tie against Shakhtar Donetsk for inspiration: in the first leg, they were similarly beaten 1-0 at home before winning the away leg 2-0 in Ukraine against much more experienced European opposition. They have already won three away ties 2-0 in this season’s competition.
United should be confident of progression and are favourites on all the best betting apps. But as much as form points to United being superior at home, looking back at past games should also serve as a reminder to Jose Mourinho that his side should take nothing for granted. Celta have proven they’re even more dangerous away.