Whoever Manchester United are paired with in Friday’s Europa League draw, they will fancy themselves to progress to the semi finals and beyond.
On paper and in stature, the Red Devils are the strongest side left in the competition at the quarter final stage, proving their mettle by dumping out AC Milan in the last 16.
Not only does the Europa League offer United a clear path to next season’s Champions League – although their spot in the Premier League’s top four looks all but assured – it can serve as a vindication for their choice of coach.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is yet reach a cup final since his appointment as Jose Mourinho’s successor in 2018, let alone win a trophy.
His United side have tasted defeat in four semi final ties in the last two seasons alone. Last campaign, they were knocked out at the last four stage in the Carabao Cup by Manchester City, the FA Cup by Chelsea and the Europa League by Sevilla.
This term, United reached the semi finals of the Carabao Cup again, once more finding Pep Guardiola’s City too tough an opponent to get past.
What’s more, City hold the keys to the Premier League title, boasting a 14 point lead over their city rivals with under 10 games to go.
In the FA Cup, United will travel to the King Power Stadium to face Leicester in the last eight. Even if they progress there, the likes of City and Chelsea are still in that competition.
That leaves the Europa League as the only competition that United are considered favourites to triumph in this season.
Of the remaining teams here, only Ajax have previously won the Europa League or, in this case, its equivalent – the UEFA Cup in 1992.
You could argue then, that European glory is more likely than lifting either the Premier League or – given the Europa League is based on two-legged ties until the final – the FA Cup.