A big win for little Villarreal!
Villarreal took on Man United in Gdansk, Poland for the Europa League final on Wednesday night. It was a great affair with several Villarreal fans in attendance while United had a good portion as well. The town that Villarreal is based out of has a population of about 50,000 people anyways so it’s not some tall order. United selected its usual lineup with one change. De Gea was in goal with Wan Bissaka, Bailly, Lindelof, and Shaw in defence. Pogba dropped into the midfield alongside McTominay. Rashford, Greenwood, Bruno and Cavani started up front. It was a good team on the face of it. Villarreal stuck with their 4-4-2. Rulli in goal, Foyth, Albiol, Torres, and Alfonso in defence. Pino, Capoue, Parejo, and Trigueros in midfield while Bacca and Moreno started up front. Two very strong teams but it was a battle between two managers.
It was a balanced game with Villarreal drawing first blood as Moreno scored from a set piece to give Emery and co the lead in the 29th minute. United could not equalise in the 1st half but Cavani managed to do it in the 2nd half as the ball ricochetted around the box and fell the Uruguayan who tapped it in the 55th minute. Villarreal made some changes to keep the team fresh but both teams are quite defensive so neither could break the other down. The game continued to go on past extra time and into penalties. Ole had made no changes for the whole game and only brought on the likes of James, Tuanzebe, Fred and Telles in extra time for penalties. The penalties also kept on going with De Gea not being able to save any of Villarreal’s 11 penalties. Rulli came close on numerous occasions but finally managed to save De Gea’s penalty as Villarreal won their first European trophy.
Given Villarreal’s story and what was a stake it was a big win for them. They had to win to avoid playing in the Conference League and now they will be in Pot 1 of the Champions League. Their town of 50,000 people get something to shout about. Emery becomes the first manager to win 4 Europa League trophies showing that it was probably Arsenal who were the problem and not him. For Ole and United they end the season with a solitary 2nd place finish. Ole showed no tactical awareness or capability of making substitutions while the defence was poor again. It was the same trick as he hoped that some of his individual talents would strike and bounce back in the 2nd half. The luck ran out. In any ordinary club it would be curtains or at the very least serious questions around Ole but Ole is most likely to get a new contract. There are several managers now looking for jobs and one would wonder if United should pounce and try to get a Zidane or Poch.
A positive night for Villarreal and one their town can be proud of for many many years to come.