Manchester United travel to Valencia tonight for a relatively meaningless Champions League match in many ways. Marouane Fellaini’s late winner against Young Boys ensured Jose Mourinho’s 16th consecutive knockout stage campaign. It also knocked the Swiss out of Europe altogether, and left Valencia a guaranteed Europa League exit route. The only thing still to play for is topping the group. This analysis will use statistics to break down the last match of Group H for United.
Mason Greenwood and Joe Garner have both travelled, but both will start on the bench. Paul Pogba – who was omitted from the starting lineup in the last two league games – will start. Jose Mourinho explained his intentions in the pre-match press conference:
“The kids won’t start the match. Garner will be on the bench, and Mason is the protection player, in case we have any injuries. We have players that need to play; we have players that deserve to play so, in spite of leaving a few players in Manchester, we are going to play with a team only with players from the first team.”
Manchester United: W2, D3, L1 GF: 10 GA: 8
Valencia: W3, D1, L2 GF: 6 GA: 4
For all the discontent swirling around Old Trafford this season, United have lost just once in their last nine competitive games. Sitting in sixth place is undoubtedly an underachievement, but is an improvement on a few weeks ago. The last three games in particular have produced some pulsating performances with eight goals, including the 2-2 draw with Arsenal.
Valencia meanwhile are struggling down in 15th place in La Liga. To be fair, their only dropped points have come against the top two in Spain – Real Madrid and Sevilla – and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus. They have only scored twice in the last four games, and scored more than once on one occasion in the last six.
Manchester United wins: 2
Valencia wins: 1
Given the lack of incentive for both teams, the track record between them doesn’t make for positive reading for neutrals. Valencia’s one win over United came 36 years ago. Of the last six, five have been draws with three of those goalless including the return game in Manchester. In that run, there have been five goals scored in total between the two sides.
Valencia have failed to score in the last three home meetings. That run began in the wake of United’s dramatic Champions League win, when Sir Alex Ferguson’s treble winners kept a pair of clean sheets.
- Manchester United have only conceded twice in their last four Champions League away matches.
- United have lost just once in their last 11 Champions League away matches (W7, D3), and never conceding more than once in a match during that run
- Valencia have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last nine Champions League home game.
- Valencia have lost four of their last six home matches in the Champions league from the group stage onwards
With the context of what is at stake and the track record between these two, it seems highly likely we will see a draw. Neither side wants or needs to expend any more than the bare minimum. Valencia have their top-flight status to preserve, while next up for United is Liverpool away. With that in mind, it is hard to see much else than a dour goalless draw.