Manchester United will be hoping to end their 2020-21 campaign by lifting the Europa League trophy when they take on Villarreal at the Stadion Miejski in Gdansk on Wednesday, May 26.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side wrapped up a top-four spot in the Premier League, which will allow him to rest key players in their final game away to Wolverhampton Wanderers the weekend before this one.
Villarreal are currently in a battle with Real Sociedad and Real Betis for the two Europa League spots for next season in La Liga, but they know winning this final gets them a place in the Champions League instead.
United obliterated AS Roma 6-2 in the first leg of their semi-final, before losing 2-3 in the return leg in the Italian capital. That’s the only defeat they’ve had in the competition, after dropping out of the Champions League to enter in the round of 32.
Comfortable 4-0 aggregate wins against Sociedad and Granada came on either side of their 2-1 win over AC Milan.
Unai Emery’s Villarreal have won 12 of their 14 matches in this season’s competition, drawing the other two.
A 2-1 aggregate win over English opponents Arsenal in the semi-finals was their only tight tie, having thrashed RB Salzburg 4-1, Dynamo Kyiv 4-0 and Dinamo Zagreb 3-1 to make it to the final four.
Despite this, United are odds on favourites to win the final within 90 minutes according to the football betting odds on erfahrungen.com. They have been the favourites to lift the trophy ever since they dropped into the tournament.
Villarreal have three La Liga matches to go before the final, and United have four games domestically. The English Premier League side are in a better position to be able to rest players to be fresh for the final.
The Red Devils are currently without Anthony Martial and Daniel James, who could both be back for the final. Phil Jones isn’t expected to return, but the centre-back wouldn’t have expected to play.
Villarreal are currently without Vicente Iborra and Juan Foyth. Although the latter has played less than half of their La Liga games this term, he has been a regular in defence during their Europa League campaign. He is expected to miss the final.
Man Utd (4-2-3-1): Dean Henderson; Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw; Fred, Scott McTominay; Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba; Edinson Cavani.
Villarreal (4-4-2): Geronimo Rulli; Juan Foyth, Raul Albiol, Pau Torres, Alfonzo Pedraza; Samuel Chukwueze, Etienne Capoue, Dani Parejo, Manu Trigueros; Gerard Moreno, Paco Alcacer.
Marcus Rashford vs Villarreal defence
Rashford is arguably Manchester United’s best striker, though Cavani, Martial and Greenwood aren’t exactly poor options.
The England international could line up on the left, right or up front in this game and not knowing that alone could be a problem to Villarreal’s preparation in defence.
Rashford’s pace and runs off the ball could see him get in behind the La Liga side’s defence at any point, to either get himself on the scoresheet or set up a tap in for a teammate.
Bruno Fernandes vs Etienne Capoue
Fernandes’s arrival at Old Trafford has significantly improved the results on the pitch. The Portuguese superstar is both a playmaker and a goalscorer from his number 10 role, and very few opponents have worked out how to keep him quiet for 90 minutes.
Capoue is expected to be handed that role in the final. The former Premier League midfielder missed the second leg of their semi-final versus Arsenal having been sent off towards the end of the first.
Moreno & Alcacer vs United’s defence
Villarreal have two excellent goal threats up front of their own in Moreno and Alcacer. The former has scored 13+ goals in La Liga for four of the past five seasons, whilst Alcacer earned a move to Barcelona only a couple of seasons ago.
United’s defence hasn’t always been the most solid and their fans will have every reason to be nervous of this attacking duo coming up against Maguire and Lindelof.
They will try to maintain as much possession as they can to limit the chances the opponents see. Or simply try to outscore them.
Although United are the odds on favourites this has the potential to be a thrilling final that could go either way.
With Two excellent attacking sides on display, we are currently leaning towards the Premier League side with how well they have performed domestically and in Europe this season.
Prediction: Man Utd 3-2 Villarreal.
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