Manchester United will bid to end their season with a trophy as we take on Villarreal in the Europa League final on Wednesday evening. With a victory over the Spanish side, it would mark the first trophy under the management of Ole Gunnar Solskjær. It has been four years since we last won some silverware, which was the Europa League back in the 2016/17 season.
United come into the final having secured second place in the Premier League. Though our form had taken a slight downturn in the run up to the end of the season. Before our last league game against Wolves, we had not won in any of the previous three. The Red Devils secured a 2-1 victory on the final day of the league season thanks to a bullet header from Anthony Elanga and a Juan Mata penalty.
We had only taken one point out of nine before spoiling Nuno Espirito Santo send off at Molineux. In our recent Europa League game, we were defeated by Roma. But in the overall context, United has secured their passage by a dominating performance in the first leg of the semi-finals at Old Trafford.
Roma had a spate of injuries in the semi-final first leg, who had gone in at half time with a 2-1 lead. United hit back to win the game 6-2 before losing the second leg 3-2 in Rome. The Red Devils have been favourites to lift the trophy since their group stage exit of the Champions League back in December.
Finishing the season on a high
We could follow in the footsteps of league rivals Chelsea, who were the first English side to win the Europa League after dropping out of UEFA’s elite competition. We have secured seven wins from five knockout matches before losing to Roma recently. The record is even more impressive given we had knocked out both AC Milan and Real Soceidad. Victory over Granada at the quarter-final stage means United knows how to get past Spanish sides on the European stage.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær who still has his doubters in some quarters will certainly silence those voices if we were to achieve victory and claim his first trophy for the club.
Villarreal arrives into the final having defeated Arsenal at the semi-final stage. In the first leg, thanks to goals from Manu Trigueros and Raul Albiol put them on course for Gdansk before drawing the second leg 0-0 at the Emirates. For manager, Unai Emery, who we are familiar with from his time at Arsenal will be seeking to win the Europa League for the fourth time since 2014. He had previously won the competition with the Spanish side Sevilla.
Villarreal have a good record in this competition this season having won 12 of their 14 matches. They might be the underdogs going into the final but they certainly cannot be underestimated. Villarreal become the 11th different Spanish side to book their place in a continental final. They have also scored in 13 of their 14 games during the tournament with only the semi-final second leg against Arsenal in which they did not. Gerard Moreno has spearheaded the Spanish side to the final with six goals and four assists.
Manchester United vs Villarreal Match Details
Teams: Manchester United vs Villarreal
Date: May 26th, 2020 (Wednesday)
KO Time: 20:00 GMT
Competition: UEFA Europa League
Stadium: Stadion Energa Gdańsk
Referee: Clément Turpin
Managers: Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Unai Emery
Manchester United Team News
As for United, it remains to be seen if Harry Maguire will be fit. He had suffered an ankle injury a few weeks ago in our league victory over Aston Villa. Solskjær will give him every opportunity to make himself available though Maguire did not take part in the team training yesterday.
Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof are expected to be the centre-back partnership. However, Bailly did require treatment after yesterday’s training and this could see Axel Tuanzebe step up in his place. David De Gea is likely to be given the nod in goal over Dean Henderson.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw will resume their defensive duties. The midfield duo is likely to be that of Fred and Scott McTominay. Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba will come back into the side having not featured in the last league game. Mason Greenwood and Edinson Cavani will be pushing to lead the United attack. With three goals in his last five European games, the Uruguayan should be given the nod.
Manchester United vs Villarreal Pre-Match Press Conference
During the pre-match press conference, Ole was asked about the weight of expectation and pressure on the players going into the final. He said, “every player who goes into a final has the expectation and pressure to win. You have to prepare to win, we plan to win, we expect to win but I’m sure Unai [Emery] feels the same with his team and his players. So that’s no different. It’s been a long qualification to get there and it’s 50-50 when you get to a final. I feel, as I’ve said so many times now, confident that we are ready for this. In a final, anything can happen, you can concede a goal in the first minute, you can get an injury, get sent off, anything can happen, so we just have to be ready for anything. That’s the thing with a final, it’s decided there and then.”
Ole was asked what it would mean for United to win another European trophy. He said, “we have five wins in Europe. We’ve lost twice to Barcelona. These are big nights for us. It might be the stepping stone for something better to come. Bright future. This team is a young team. It’s a team that we’ve rebuilt over the last couple of years so hopefully this is the start of something more.”
Villarreal Team News
Samuel Chukwueze has not been ruled out of the final by manager Unai Emery as yet. But given he did not feature in the last league game against Real Madrid, he is not likely to feature against us either. Tottenham Hotspur loanee Juan Foyth is also racing against time to be fit for the showpiece event in Gdansk. He had suffered a hamstring injury in the semi-final second leg. Mario Gaspar would continue on the right side of the defence if Foyth is not fit.
Unai Emery has to decide on the goalkeeping situation with Geronimo Rulli not convincing between the sticks against Arsenal in the last round. He could give Sergio Asenjo the opportunity to return to the starting eleven. Carlos Bacca and Paco Alcacer will be looking to partner with Gerard Moreno up top. Bacca who played against Real Madrid but failed to shine. So this could see Alcacer given the nod ahead of him.
Manchester United Europa League form: DWWWWL
Manchester United form (all competitions): LWLLDW
Villarreal Europa League form: WWWWWD
Villarreal form (all competitions): WDLWWL
- Manchester United and Villarreal will face each other for the fifth time, with each of the previous four meetings finishing 0-0 in the UEFA Champions League between 2005-06 and 2008-09. Manchester United have faced Villarreal more times without ever scoring than they have any other opponent in their history. (source: Opta)
- This will be Manchester United’s eighth major European final, the second-most of any English club after Liverpool (14). They have been crowned winners in five of the previous seven finals, losing only against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League in both 2008-09 and 2010-11. (source: Opta)
- Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will contest only his second final in his managerial career, having won the 2013 Norwegian Cup with Molde. Solskjaer would be the first Norwegian manager to win a major European trophy. (source: Opta)
- Aged 19 years and 237 days on the day of the final, Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood could become only the second English teenager to score in a major UEFA European final after Brian Kidd, who scored on his 19th birthday for Manchester United in the 1968 European Cup final against Benfica. (source: Opta)
Manchester United vs Villarreal Predicted Lineup
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Bailly, Shaw; Fred, McTominay; Rashford, Fernandes, Pogba; and Cavani.
Victory in Gdansk would mark the first trophy under the reign of Ole Gunnar Solskjær and would end the season on a high for United. Our opponents cannot be underestimated given their record in the competition this season. The Red Devils must not switch off at any point or we will be punished for our mistakes. We have more than enough quality in the squad to bring back the Europa League trophy to Old Trafford.
Manchester United 2-1 Villarreal