Villarreal are set to take on Manchester United at the Stadion Gdańsk in the Europa League final on Wednesday night.
Villarreal have been in the Europa League since the group stage and have not lost in any of their 14 matches played in this season’s competition, winning 12 of those games. However, they are yet to face an opponent as strong as Man Utd and this will prove to be the biggest test of all for them. The Yellow Submarine beat Arsenal 2-1 on aggregate in the semifinals to advance to the showpiece event. They are coming here after a 2-1 defeat to eventual runners-up Real Madrid on Saturday to end their league campaign in 7th place.
Manchester United dropped into the Europa League after finishing 3rd in their Champions League group. They came up twice against Spanish opponents in the knockout stages, beating Real Sociedad and Granada with relative ease. They put 8 past Roma over two legs in the semifinals and are coming here after a 2-1 victory over Wolves in their final game of the league campaign. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer searches for his first piece of silverware since joining the club at the end of 2019.
- Villarreal have reached a major European final for the first time in their history, becoming the 11th different Spanish side to do so. The previous two Spanish sides to reach a major European final for the first time and also face an English opponent in that match were Alavés (who lost 4-5 to Liverpool in the 2000-01 UEFA Cup) and Sevilla (who won 4-0 against Middlesbrough in the 2005-06 UEFA Cup).
- This will be Manchester United’s eighth major European final, the second-most for any English club after Liverpool (14). They have been winners in 5 of the previous 7 finals, losing only against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League Finals in 2009 and 2011.
- Villarreal and Manchester United will face each other for the fifth time, with each of the previous four meetings finishing goalless in the UEFA Champions League between 2005-06 and 2008-09.
- On each of the last nine occasions of a Spanish side facing an English opposition in a European competition final, the Spanish club has won the match. Alavés was the last to lose against Liverpool in the 2000-01 UEFA Cup.
- Villarreal are unbeaten in the European competition this season, winning 12 times and drawing twice. They could become the seventh side to lift either the UEFA Cup or UEFA Europa League without a single defeat in the European competition season.
- Manchester United’s Edinson Cavani has scored 5 goals and provided 2 assists in the Europa League this season, averaging either a goal or an assist every 35 minutes. Cavani could be the third player aged 34 or above to score in a major European final for an English club.
- Match: Villarreal vs. Manchester United
- Venue: Stadion Gdańsk
- Date & Time: May 27, 2021 at 12:30 AM IST
- Injured: Vicente Iborra
- Doubtful: Samuel Chukwueze, Juan Foyth
- Unavailable: None
- Injured: Anthony Martial, Phil Jones
- Doubtful: Harry Maguire
- Suspended: None
Predicted Starting XI
Sergio Asenjo (GK); Mario Gaspar, Alfonso Pedraza, Raul Albiol, Pau Torres; Etienne Capoue, Manuel Trigueros, Dani Parejo, Yeremi Pino; Gerard Moreno, Paco Alcacer
Manchester United (4-2-3-1)
David de Gea (GK), Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly, Luke Shaw; Scott McTominay, Fred; Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba; Edinson Cavani
- Villarreal form guide: L-W-W-L-D
- Manchester United form guide: W-D-L-L-W
A fixture that has historically led to a drab 90 minutes will ultimately have a winner and a loser this time, as 9,500 spectators prepare to witness Unai Emery take on Solskjaer.
Emery is a master of the Europa League, winning multiple times with Sevilla and having also reached the final with Arsenal previously. On the other hand, Solskjaer is in his first major final with Manchester United and will want to claim his first piece of major managerial silverware in Gdansk.
If Harry Maguire misses out at the back for The Red Devils as expected, Moreno and co. would smell blood against a weak-looking defense. However, the attacking unit, which comprises Bruno, Cavani and Rashford, should prove out to be enough for a big occasion like this.
Expect a 2-1 win for the Red Devils to secure their first trophy since 2018 on Wednesday night.
Howzat Dream Team
- Goalkeeper: D de Gea
- Defenders: R Albiol, P Torres, A W-Bissaka, V Lindelof
- Midfielders: M Trigueros, Y Pino, Fred, B Fernandes
- Forwards: G Moreno, E Cavani
- Captain: B Fernandes/E Cavani
- Vice Captain: G Moreno/M Trigueros
NOTE: The Howzat dream team above is just a suggestion. You can select your own fantasy 11 by using your knowledge and fantasy premier league tips. Also, don’t forget to make any necessary changes to your team once the actual starting 11 is announced by each team (60 minutes before the start of the match) as some players you have selected might not be part of the fantasy 11.
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