Europa League Final Match Preview: Villarreal vs Manchester United

Villarreal vs Manchester United

Villarreal vs Manchester United predictions and match preview for Wednesday’s UEFA Europa League Final. Read on for the team news, analysis and predicted lineups as the Yellow Submarine target what would be the biggest achievement in their history.

  • DATE: Wednesday 26th May 2021
  • KICK-OFF: 21:00 (CET)
  • VENUE: Stadion Miejski, Gdańsk
  • COMPETITION: UEFA Europa League Final

Villarreal vs Manchester United Preview

Europa League Final venueStadion Miejski via Dariusz Boczek, CC BY-SA 3.0

This is it. They’ve been longing for this day for many years and here it arrives. Villarreal Club de Fútbol, from a town of 50,000 are in a European final for the first time ever. Semi finalists in the Champions League in 2006, the UEFA Cup/Europa League in 2004, 2011 and 2016, and the Copa del Rey in 2015. Now in 2021, they are only a step away from a first major trophy. It’s undoubtedly the biggest day in the 98-year history of El Submarino Amarillo. They call it, “Es nuestro momento” (It’s our time).

In Gdańsk on Wednesday, they are up against one of the continent’s big names, Manchester United – thrice European champions and UEL winners four years ago. United have steamrolled past opponents in this year’s competition, including two Spanish sides – Real Sociedad and Granada who were both beaten 4-0 on aggregate. Then they put eight past Roma in the semi finals. However, things will be far from easy for the Red Devils against a Villarreal side unbeaten in Europe this season. From the United point of view, losing the final would be a big failure as they dropped out of the UCL this season. It’s also been four years since they lifted any silverware. Make no mistake, Manchester United are as hungry for this title as Villarreal.

In terms of how much would it mean to win the title, it’s a no-brainer. Villarreal crave this trophy possibly more than any other club in Europe. This is the team with the most matches and wins under their belt in the UEL era, but they had never made it to the final until now. Winning a trophy will take this club to the next level and that’s exactly why three-time champion Unai Emery was appointed. This will be his fifth Europa League final in eight seasons. He knows the ins and outs of this competition better than any other manager on this planet. Emery and Villarreal are almost a match made in heaven.

This is the culmination of many seasons of hard work and it would be worth it if we win a trophy with Villarreal”, says Manu Trigueros, a servant of the club for more than a decade. Obviously the Yellow Submarine are the underdogs in the final. Regarding pedigree, big-stage experience and talent, they are no match for their rich English opponents. Those, however, aren’t the only factors which determine who wins a one-off final. For the Spanish side’s bid, striker Gerard Moreno in the form of his life and rock-solid centre-back pairing of Raúl Albiol and Pau Torres could be decisive in making the difference.

With the showdown only four days later, many expected Emery to rest a bunch of key players in the last league game against Real Madrid on Saturday. But understanding Emery is complicated. Chasing a Europa League spot via LaLiga, the Basque coach named what could be more or less the same line-up in Poland on Wednesday. In the end, the efforts went fruitless as Madrid pulled off a late turnaround to win 2-1 while La Real and Betis, also competing for Europe, won their respective matches.

Villarreal finished 7th in the league and will play in the Europa Conference League unless they win in Gdańsk and book a Champions League spot for the first time in a decade. The positive for Villarreal is the mighty performance they put in at the Valdebebas, being arguably the better side against title-chasing Real Madrid for a large chunk of the match. Emery’s men will also take confidence from the 4-0 thumping of fourth-placed Sevilla on the previous matchday.

Manchester United ended their domestic campaign 23 hours after Villarreal. They beat Wolves 2-1 in an inconsequential fixture with a heavily-rotated squad and ended the season in the top two for only the second time in the last eight seasons. A big worry for Solskjær is that they’ve not kept a clean sheet in their last six matches, conceding 14 goals. Fixing the leaky defence is important, especially when you’re up against Gerard Moreno but doing so without your best defender – Harry Maguire could be tough.

United have lost all of their last three European finals against Spanish opposition. History isn’t exactly on their side. On the other hand, Villarreal are here to script some history of their own and become the seventh different Spanish team to win a European competition.

Head to Head

  • Last 4 Meetings: 4 Draws.
  • The sides have met 4 times previously – all in the Champions League group stage in 2005 and 2008.
  • All four games ended 0-0!

Team News

Samuel Chukwueze looks like he will lose his battle for fitness due to a hamstring injury. Juan Foyth is also a doubt for Villarreal who are likely to name a very similar XI to the one that ultimately lost to Real Madrid on Saturday. Foyth may come in if fit enough. Moi Gomez and Yeremi Pino look to be battling for a position in perhaps Unai Emery’s biggest selection call.

Unlike Villarreal, Manchester United opted to rest all their expected starters at the weekend. They have a major doubt over key centre-back Harry Maguire while Anthony Martial is out injured.

Predicted Villarreal Starting Lineup:

Rulli – Pedraza, Torres, Albiol, Gaspar – Trigueros, Parejo, Capoue, Pino – Bacca, Gerard (4-4-2)

Predicted Manchester United Starting Lineup:

De Gea – Shaw, Tuanzebe, Lindelof, Wan-Bissaka – McTominay, Fred – Pogba, Fernandes, Rashford – Cavani (4-2-3-1)

Villarreal vs Manchester United Predictions

Score Prediction: Villarreal 1-1 Manchester United (Match goes to penalties)

These are the kind of matches you hate to predict. United are the favourites on paper but as they say, there are no favourites in finals. Finals are almost always cagey affairs and with the nature of these teams, you wouldn’t bet against it. Both camps might look to play it safe early on and we can expect a slow start. It could be a tense and long night in Gdańsk, potentially one where all the difference is made from 12 yards out.

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About Akhil Rawat 41 Articles
Based in New Delhi, Akhil follows LaLiga and Spanish football religiously. Currently a novice in the world of football writing, he fancies expressing his passion for the league through words.