United avoided Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Juventus – plus a long, tricky trip to the Ukraine to face Shakhtar Donetsk – and instead will face Sevilla for the first time in any European competition.
Sevilla are lying fifth in La Liga – 11 points behind leaders Barcelona – following a crushing 5-0 defeat at Real Madrid at the weekend but Mourinho will have noted they held Liverpool to two draws in the group stages this season.
And if he wants any updates he can always consult United’s three Spanish ‘amigos’ – David De Gea, Juan Mata and Ander Herrera.
After a 2-2 draw at Anfield in September, Sevilla staged a remarkable comeback from 3-0 down at half-time in the return at Spain to draw 3-3 after manager Eduardo Berizzo fired up his players during his half-time team talk by revealing he needed treatment for prostate cancer.
Mourinho will also be well aware of Sevilla’s reputation for being wily European campaigners, although their pedigree comes mainly in Europe’s second tier competition.
They have won a record five UEFA Cup/Europa League crowns in the last 11 years – starting the run with a win over Middlesbrough in the 2006 final while beating Liverpool to win their fifth in 2016.
Two former Manchester City players lie in wait for United – Jesus Navas and Nolito both left City to join the Andalucian club in the summer.
Sevilla will be the 10th Spanish club Manchester United have met in European competition. Apart from regular clashes with the big two, Real Madrid and Barcelona, over the years United have also faced Valencia, Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad, Villarreal, Deportivo La Coruna and Celta Vigo, who they beat in last year’s Europa League semi-finals.
Their record in Spain is not spectacular though. They have drawn games at Real and Barca and recorded wins over Deportivo, Valencia and Celta but suffered plenty of defeats.
But over two legs Mourinho – who will know all about Sevilla’s form his three years in charge of Real Madrid – will be confident of reaching the last eight. United won five of their six group games and should have not lost in Basel where they missed numerous chances before falling to a late goal.
Apart from their two draws with Liverpool, Sevilla were also surprisingly held by Maribor in their final group game and lost to Spartak Moscow. But home wins over Maribor and Spartak earned them nine points and second place behind Jurgen Klopp’s Merseysiders in Group E.
The two clubs have met twice before in pre-season friendlies. The Spaniards were the opponents for Rio Ferdinand’s testimonial match in August 2013 – David Moyes’ first home game as United boss – when they won 3-1 while seven years earlier United won 3-0 with goals from Louis Saha, Cristiano Ronaldo and David Jones in a warm-up.