The teaser to the main event on Saturday!
It’s Europa League Final time as La Liga side Villarreal will be playing Premier League side Man United in Gdansk, Poland on Wednesday night. It’s been a lengthy season and its the final game for both these teams. As things stand Villarreal will be playing in the European Conference League next season but if they win they go straight into the Champions League. Man United have already sealed a Champions League place but they haven’t won a trophy under Ole yet and that is their goal. I would say there is pressure on both teams and but if a team has more to gain from the win it is Villarreal.
Villarreal topped their Europa League group winning 5 and drawing 1 of their six games. In the Round of 32 they beat RB Salzburg 4-1 over two legs. Round of 16 they beat Dynamo Kyiv 4-0. In the Quarter Finals they beat Dinamo Zagreb 3-1 over two legs. In the Semi Finals they beat Arsenal 1-2 over two legs. Some tricky games there but all very manageable for Unai Emery and his team. Villarreal have never won the Europa League but Unai Emery has won it 3 times in a row with Sevilla so there is plenty of experience on that front. Going into the game on Wednesday Villarreal have won 3 and lost 2 of their last 5 games.
Man United’s Europa League journey began in the Round of 16 after they finished 3rd in the Champions League Group Stage. First up was AC Milan who they beat 1-2 over two legs. Next up was Granada in the Quarters who they beat 4-0 over two legs. They got Roma in the Semi’s who they beat 8-5 on aggregate. This might be tougher opposition and you may be thinking wow United beat some good teams but no there is always context. AC Milan were a depleted team when they faced United and didn’t have several key players available. Roma had a really poor 45 minutes in Manchester which took the tie away from them. In Rome De Gea saved United from the blushes of being knocked out. United won the Europa League most recently with Jose Mourinho in 2017. That also happened to be United’s last trophy. United go into this game having won 2, lost 2 and drawn 1 of their last five games.
Villarreal Team Preview
Villarreal have a good group of players available to them. Rulli has been a good goalkeeper for them while defenders like Pau Torres are attracting attention from top clubs and Albiol has been a stalwart for many seasons now. They also have Alberto Moreno who many might remember from Liverpool. Their midfield of Parejo and Capoue is a solid one while the likes of Trigueros can cause damage from the wings. Bacca, Moreno, Alcacer are just some of the great options they have up front for them. Moreno has been their standout player up front with 29 goals and 11 assists this season. Alcacer is next up with 12 goals and 5 assists. Chukwueze will be a miss for them as he is out injured. It’s a solid team and capable of winning a final for sure, but they will have to be clinical in front of goal. United have been outplayed by several teams this season, but because those teams have not been clinical United have walked away with a point or more.
Man United Team Preview
United will be without Martial but apart from that they have a fit squad. Ole rested almost all of his players on the final day of the season so they basically have a good week of rest going into this game. Henderson and De Gea has been a debate for many this season and a problem of United’s own making but if you ask me its because of De Gea that they have even reached the final so he should start. Maguire is injured but he could start which wouldn’t be smart given Moreno Bacca and Alacer but to each his own. A back four of Wan Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, and Shaw is almost certain. A midfield two of McTominay and Fred with Pogba, Bruno Fernandes, Rashford behind Cavani is how United should set up going forward. It’s a nailed on team from Ole. What Ole does have is some really good individual talents namely Bruno Fernandes and Cavani but if you stop those two and keep Pogba quite you basically have United thwarted. United are a 45 minute team. They could blitz you in 45 minutes and they tend to respond better if they go a goal down. United are also a very lucky team and Ole is a very lucky manager. Ole will go back to relying on counter attacking football for this game and hope that the pace up front can help them win.
Starting XI Prediction
It’s going to be a big game in Gdansk. Emery for sure is the one who has been there and done it several times in the Europa League and won titles with several other teams. Ole is relying on Bruno, Cavani, and De Gea to get him silverware. It’s going to be a close game but I have a feeling Villarreal could win their first trophy and Emery his 4th Europa League.