Former Belgium international Philippe Albert is of the believe that Anderlecht could be a potent risk to Manchester United’s Europa League campaign if the Red Devils throw caution to the wind when both sides meet in the quarter final.
The first leg scheduled for Thursday in Belgium is one of the last eight matches where the duo revive contention for the title and 49 year-old Albert said that his former club can be a difficult task.
“I think so — if all the players play to the maximum of their potential,” Albert remarked. “I don’t know if Manchester United have injuries because they played at Sunderland with a team that had a lot of changes. So I don’t know what team they will put out on Thursday evening.
“But if Manchester look down on Anderlecht a bit by saying to themselves ‘They’re a Belgian team, it’s OK, we’re already in the semifinals’ then maybe they risk having some problems. If all the players are at 100 percent, it will not be easy on Thursday for Manchester.” He said.
Anderlecht has a record of success against Premier League sides in recent observations, having come to draw level with Arsenal in a Champions League match in London in November 2014 and taking three points off Tottenham in a 2-1 home win in a Europa League group match in 2015.
Though Anderlecht did not win the Belgian Pro League in those two seasons yet Albert holds the conviction that unheralded Swiss coach Rene Weiler has put in place a formidable side since stepping into Besnik Hasi’s position, as manager over the summer.
“They’re tougher — physically they’re prepared a lot more,” former Newcastle defender Albert added. “They’re a lot sharper.
“They have a more direct game too. When Anderlecht benefit from space, things move very quickly so it could be interesting against a team like Manchester United.”
Midifelder Youri Tielemans, is one player who has thrived under Weiler. The 19-year-old has 13 goals, famed for his long range on-target shots, and nine assists in the current league season. He has also netted the ball five times in European competitions.
“He started very young,” Albert said. “He was 16 when he made his debut for the first team so he was still a kid. With the new manager, he’s really become aware of his potential.
“He became a father a few weeks ago and that brings with it responsibility off the pitch as well. But on the pitch he’s lost three, four or five kilos and that’s made the difference in his game.
“He’s become a leader of the team because he’s already been a fully-fledged starter for three years. And if he continues like that then at the end of the season or next season he’ll be made for a big championship like in Germany, England or Spain. I’m certain of that.” He said.