Manchester United’s Europa League campaign is set to continue this weekend with a tie against an all too familiar foe, Sevilla.
The Red Devils secured their place in the next round following a 1-0 victory over FC Copenhagen on Monday.
The Andalusian outfit famously knocked United out of the Champions League in 2018, a result which prompted Jose Mourinho’s now legendary ‘football heritage’ rant.
Sunday’s encounter will be United’s 34 knockout fixture against Spanish opposition in European competitions, but how successful have they been?
How have United faired against Spanish opposition?
Fixtures between two of the biggest clubs in the world never seem to disappoint, with goals and controversy at every turn. United famously defeated ‘Los Blancos’ in the semi-final of the 1967/68 Champions League, which United went on to win for the first time in their history.
Since then United have struggled having only won just one of the last six fixtures between the two. Notable clashes include a 4-3 victory at Old Trafford as the home crowd witnessed the brilliance of Ronaldo Nazário as the Brazilian netted an immaculate hat-trick to send United crashing out of the competition.
The Catalan giants are considered by many United fans as European enemy number one, and it is not hard to see why.
Despite beating Barcelona on their way to claiming the 2008 Champions League title, United have suffered defeat at the hands of the ‘Blaugrana’ in two Champions League finals in the space of three years (2009 and 2011).
United beat Barcelona in the final of the Cup Winners Cup in 1991, however, most recently Barcelona eased United out of last season’s Champions League quarter-final with a 4-0 aggregate win.
When Manchester United meet Athletic Bilbao in Europe, only one thing is guaranteed...goals, goals, and even more goals!
The four matches between the two have produced a total of 19 goals, 11 of which came in a 1957 European cup tie in which United were able to overturn a 5-3 first legs defeat to win 6-5 on aggregate.
More recently, however, Bilbao embarrassed Sir Alex Ferguson's United in the 2011/12 Europa League round of 16, winning both the home and away tie with a young, hungry, locally sourced squad of players which would make the final of the competition that year.
Despite having met 10 times in European competitions, only two fixtures between United and Valencia have been played in a knockout round. Both of which came in the 1982/83 UEFA Cup first round. However, United would go home empty handed as a 2-1 away loss worsened the blow of an already disappointing 0-0 draw at Old Trafford.
As previously mentioned, United and Sevilla’s only European encounter was one for the history books. A 2018 Champions League round of 16 tie ended in disaster for Mourinho’s men who slumped to a 2-1 aggregate defeat following a Wissam Ben Yeddar masterclass at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’.
Deportivo de La Coruña
Much like Valencia, the majority of United’s encounters with the former Spanish champions have been in the group stage, with the only knockout tie coming in 2001. Having already met in that season’s group stage, United got the better of their opponents when it really mattered, advancing to the semi-finals via a 5-2 aggregate win.
Despite the size and stature of the two clubs, United and Athletico Madrid have only met once in Europe, in the 1991/92 Cup Winners Cup. Being the holders at the time, United were shockingly dumped out in the second round after they couldn’t overturn a 3-0 away defeat in the first leg.
Lead by former Liverpool striker Iago Aspas, Celta Vigo stood in between United and a place in the 2017 Europa League final. A hectic 1-1 draw at Old Trafford which saw two red cards and an astonishing last-minute miss by John Guidetti was enough to see United through following a 1-0 victory in Spain. United sealed their place in the final in Stokholm, and the rest is history.
It’s fair to say United’s results against Spanish opposition have been a mixed bag with the Red Devils uncharacteristically struggling as no country has been as successful against United in European competitions. With the stats and history in mind, Sunday’s clash offers a chance of revenge and redemption for years of pain from the teams in Spain.
United’s Overall Knockout Record vs Spanish Opposition
Win Percentage: 27.3%.