Solskjear Aims For First United Managerial Silverware

Last updated: May 25, 2021 by Leon Marshal

Game details

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Kick-off: Wednesday, 20:00
Venue: Gdansk Stadium, Poland
Coverage: Sky Sports
Home Form: DLWWL
Away Form: WLLDW
Last Meeting: Villarreal 0 – 0 Man United
Competition: Europa League Final

Ole Gunnar Solskjear is on the verge of his first-ever managerial title. Standing in their way is Villarreal, who slain the Red Devils fierce rivals Arsenal on the road to the final. Unai Emery has three consecutive trophies in the Europa League in his time with Sevilla but looks short in quality compared to their rivals.

Villarreal and the Red Devils have battled each other four times in the UEFA Champions League; four of these encounters ended as goalless stalemates. However, Villarreal has proven to be the toughest opponent against Man United, preventing them from scoring a single goal in over 360 footballing minutes. Their defence would be put to the test this time, hoping to keep their shape and keep a clean sheet for the fifth game running.

Villarreal dropped just two points in the group stage and impressing throughout the knockout rounds with seven wins and one draw. They deserve this shot having an impressive twenty years, reaching the Champions League semi-finals, three Europa League finals but lacked the cutting edge to get to the finals.

They have a good attacking duo of Gerard Moreno and Paco Alcacer, both netting six times in the competition; the former has an additional five assists to his name. As a result, they can have a run at the United defence without their captain and leader Harry Maguire through injury.

Villarreal became the eleventh different Spanish team to reach a major European final. The previous two Spanish sides reached the final were against English opposition where Alaves lost 5 – 4 to Liverpool, and Sevilla beat Middlesbrough 4 – 0. A daring fate for La Liga teams who have won each of the last nine finals, including the Super Cups coming into this final. Over the last nine seasons, the winners of this competition have come from the two countries. The aggregate has been 6 – 3, with the Premier League sides losing out on their rivals.

Sevilla is the most successful side in this competition, with the historic spell of three consecutive triumphs of the Europa League coming under Unai Emery. So naturally, the touchline experience will favour the Yellow Submarines, but the quality of stars on the pitch favours the Red Devil’s.

Manchester United will be playing in their eight major European final, a tally only eclipsed by Liverpool, who have played in fourteen. In the last seven, they have lost twice, both coming against Spanish opposition Barcelona in the Champions League 2008-09 and 2010-11 season. Man United boost the star quality while Villarreal has motivated resilience and experience to disappoint the big favourites. Jose Mourinho led United to this trophy in 2017, with most of the players who featured in that final victory against Ajax still in the team.

The biggest worry is the availability of Harry Maguire with an ankle injury but still travelled with the team. Antony Martial and Phil Jones, on long term injuries, didn’t travel. However, Sir Alex Ferguson was spotted in Manchester Airport private terminal heading to Poland alongside Solskjear, an interesting scene for the Old Trafford hopefuls.

Maguire injury would mean Fernandes would wear the armband in as revolutionary signing in a year. His metrics as the best creator of big chances with twenty beats a Premier League maestro Kevin De Bruyne who has seventeen. He has eighteen goals and eleven assists in the league, nine goals and five assists in Europe (Champions League and Europa League).

Edison Cavani has four goals in the two encounters against Roma, surrounded by Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, and Paul Pogba, giving United an edge in class. However, their opponents would most likely sit back and defend; that’s where the big personalities have to influence creativity and crack open the blockages.

On paper, the English men have the edge against their rival’s man to man, but knockout competitions make this an interesting encounter. Failure for Solskjear to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League ignited backlash, with fans calling for his sacking. However, it has proven to be a blessing in disguise, giving them a clear shot on silverware in a successful season in second place in the Premier League table. They have already seen off two Spanish opposition, beating Real Sociedad and Granada 4 – 0 in aggregate.

Team News

They have a good attacking duo of Gerard Moreno and Paco Alcacer, both netting six times in the competition.

Unai Emery has three consecutive trophies in the Europa League in his time with Sevilla.

Captain and defence leader Harry Maguire injury could be a big factor in how the game turns out.

Edison Cavani had four goals in the two games against Roma.

Expected Line-Ups:

Villarreal (4-3-3): Rulli, Gaspar, Albiol, Torres, Pedraza, Chukwueze, Parejo, Coquelin, Trigueros, Moreno, Alcacer
Subs: Asenjo, Funes Mori, Bacca, Raba, Moreno, Pena, Costa, Gomez, Pino, Baena, Nino
Injured: Iborra
Not available:
Manchester United (4-3-3): De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, McTominay, Pogba, Fernandes, Rashford, Greenwood, Cavani
Subs: Henderson, Tuanzebe, Telles, Bailly, Matic, Beek, Mata, Williams, James, Fred
Injured: Jones, Martial
Not available:

So Far This Season

. . .
Villarreal This Season Man United This Season
7th League Position 2nd
7 (3) Wins (away) 5 (3)
4 – 0 v M. Tel-Aviv Biggest Win 6 – 2 v Roma
1 (1) Draws (away) 2 (0)
Biggest Defeat 2 – 3 v Roma
Moreno (6) Top Goal Scorer Cavani (4)
Y12, R1 Discipline Y17, R0
1 Failures to Score 1
62% Clean Sheets 62%
38% Both Teams to Score Games 38%
38% Over 2.5 Goals 38%
62% Under 2.5 Goals 62%
  • There have been four encounters between the sides; all four have been drawn.
  • Moreno six goals and five assists are the best tallies by any player on the pitch.
  • Villarreal has experienced player to disappoint but can be outrun by the young and extremely talented Manchester United squad.
  • Edison Cavani has four goals in the two encounters against Roma, where they lost the game but earned the competitive edge in the tough encounter coming into the final.

Head to Head

Last 5 meetings between the two sides
Date Competition Game Result First Goal-scorer
25/11/2008 CL Villarreal 0 – 0 Man U
17/09/2008 CL Man U 0 – 0 Villarreal
22/11/2005 CL Man U 0 – 0 Villarreal
14/09/2005 CL Villarreal 0 – 0 Man U

Conclusion & Betting Tips

It’s difficult to ignore that the only four meetings between these teams have ended in bore draws; however, that was a long time ago, and hopefully, we will see more goal action in this game. The battle between Edison Cavani and Gerard Moreno, who played for Liverpool, should make for entertainment.

If we compare the two managers, Unai Emery has the edge in experience and has won this competition three times before. Solskjear has often been the bridesmaid but never the bride. So a win here could be a signal of intent.

We think this game will go into extra time; therefore, we are going for a draw that is available @ 12/5 with 888sport. Moreno to score first, and a 1-1 draw is priced @ 40/1 which could be worth considering as a long shot.