Villarreal vs Manchester United Europa League final preview

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A general view of Polsat Plus Arena Gdansk stadium prior to 2021 UEFA Europa League final in Gdansk, Poland May 22, 2021. Picture taken May 22, 2021. Picture taken with a drone. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

Villarreal face Manchester United in the UEFA Europa League final in Gdańsk on 26 May at 19:00 GMT.

Form guide

Villarreal
Form: LWWLDW
Latest: Real Madrid 2-1 Villarreal, 22/05
Where they finished: 7th in Liga

Manchester United
Form: WDLLWL
Latest: Wolves 1-2 Man. United, 23/05
Where they finished: 2nd in Premier League00:00 of 03:14Volume 0%00:0203:14 Road to the final: All Villarreal’s goals

Route to the final

Villarreal
Qualified: 5th in Liga
Group I winners
Round of 32: 4-1 Salzburg
Round of 16: 4-0 Dynamo Kyiv
Quarter-finals: 3-1 Dinamo Zagreb
Semi-finals: 2-1 Arsenal

Meet the teams: Villarreal

Manchester United
Qualified: Transferred from UEFA Champions League
Round of 32: 4-0 Real Sociedad
Round of 16: 2-1 AC Milan
Quarter-finals: 4-0 Granada
Semi-finals: 8-5 Roma

Meet the teams: Man Utd

Possible line-ups

Villarreal: Rulli/Asenjo; Foyth, Albiol, Torres, Pedraza; Pino, Capoue, Parejo, Trigueros: Moreno, Bacca

 Unai Emery faces some tough decisions, not least between the posts, where Gerónimo Rulli has started all but one game during Villarreal’s European run. The Argentinian has looked short of match practice, however, which could prompt Emery to go with Sergio Asenjo. He must also choose a partner for Gerard Moreno up front, and although Paco Alcácer has scored six goals in the competition this term, two-time Europa League winner Carlos Bacca impressed in the team’s last two Liga matches.

Man Utd: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Lindelöf, Shaw; McTominay, Fred; Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Pogba; Cavani

 Time is running out for Harry Maguire to prove his fitness after the United captain suffered an ankle injury earlier this month. “I don’t expect him to be ready,” manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær admitted on Sunday, which could well mean Victor Lindelöf and Eric Bailly partnering together in central defence. The Norwegian must also decide who to start in goal, although Dean Henderson’s selection against Wolves on Sunday suggests David de Gea will return to the side in Gdańsk.

Expert predictions

Graham Hunter, Villarreal reporter: Unbeaten in Europe this season, are Villarreal really likely to trip up now? Steered by a coach with such an exceptional Europa League record? You’d have thought perhaps not. Plus, Emery’s three previous final wins showed him capable of triumphing in a variety of ways. Wednesday’s game will need to be won as underdogs, I fear. Villarreal have the talent to win but, objectively, may not be quite as quick and strong as United. The key will be how the keeper chosen by Emery performs.

Matthew Howarth, Man Utd reporter: After finally overcoming their semi-final hoodoo under Solskjær, defeat for United on Wednesday would be considered a failure. The Red Devils have beaten some talented sides en route to Gdańsk, and Villarreal certainly fall into that category, but they should be no match for a United side desperate to get their hands on their first piece of silverware in four years.

View from the camps

Ole Gunnar Solskjær, Man Utd manager: “It’s going to be special. You’ve got to be proud to be able to lead a Manchester United team out to a final. It’s been a fantastic journey and, as we say in Norwegian, veien er målet (the goal is the journey). This is just a step on the road to bringing our Man. United back.”

Unai Emery, Villarreal coach: “If United are the favourites it’s because they have very good footballers, they have a great history, but we have arguments to be a real candidate to win here in Gdansk. United, at their best, can beat anyone. But we have our ‘pros’. We’ve analysed United closely and the key is to take our opportunities when they come.”

Marcus Rashford, Man Utd forward: “This game’s important for us. We’re so close to being a team that can compete and win trophies every single season. Maybe winning this title, this Europa League, can give us that little push that we need.”

Dani Parejo, Villarreal midfielder: “We are up against the side who, I think, have been title favourites since they switched from the Champions League. Manchester United are a great team with top players, especially in attack. But we’ll set ourselves up as we would for any other game, playing as we have until now: as a team.”

Manu Trigueros, Villarreal midfielder: “An open, end-to-end game would be one where we have more to lose than United. We have to be organised, keep the ball, do damage to United in the way the coach has asked us to. We need to be intelligent and not get involved in a really uncontrolled match.”

Pau Torres, Villarreal defender: “When you are in the final it’s inevitable you play the best opposition. But we’ll be calm. We’ve seen the videos and we know their strengths. I’ve played against Germany, we knocked out Arsenal, I train every day with Gerard Moreno who’s one of the best in Europe, so we’ll be ready.”

Source: UEFA