Villarreal vs Man Utd: Europa League Final | Team News | Expected XIs | Prediction
The final and most important game of the season has finally arrived for Manchester United; the Europa League Final against Villarreal in Poland.
The final and most important game of the season has finally arrived for Man Utd; the Europa League Final versus Villarreal, kicking off tonight at 8pm live from PGE Arena in Gdansk.
The Europa League is not a competition Utd were originally hoping to be a part of, however following their exit from the group stages of the Champions League, they were determined to take it all the way.
United have not had an easy run in their Europa League journey, having to take on AC Milan, Real Sociedad and AC Roma in order to reach the final. Nevertheless, the players determination to go further than last season has resulted in some impressive victories over these tough opponents and ultimately, a ticket to Gdansk.
Man Utd manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be desperate to lift a trophy after leading the team to their first final since his takeover. This will not only boost the players confidence in terms of progression and potential for future success, but also the fans who have been waiting four long years for silverware.
In Solskjaer’s 26-man squad, Phil Jones and Anthony Martial failed to make the cut, both still suffering with injuries.
Surprisingly, Harry Maguire was named in the travelling squad despite suffering an ankle injury which forced him into a support boot, crutches and onto the sidelines for Utd’s previous few matches.
Solskjaer has said he wants to give the captain as much time as possible to see whether he will be able to lead the team out on the day. However, Maguire was not spotted in the final training session which took place yesterday, therefore the chances of a miraculous recovery do not look good.
For Villarreal, there are doubts over the availability of the on-loan Tottenham player, Juan Foyth. Vicente Iborra will also be out of contention for the game.
Villarreal (4-4-2): Rulli; Pedraza, Torres, Albiol, Gaspar; Gomez, Capoue, Parejo, Trigueros; Moreno, Bacca.
Man Utd (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Tuanzebe, Shaw; Fred, Pogba; Rashford, Fernandes, Greenwood; Cavani.
The debate over whether Solskjaer will pick Dean Henderson or David de Gea remains. But, with David de Gea’s experience and current good form, it is difficult to see how he could be dropped from the starting line-up. Furthermore, if it wasn’t for de Gea’s man of the match performance against Roma in the second-leg, it is highly likely Manchester United would not have even made it to the final.
Full-backs Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw pick themselves. They have been highly important players for Solskjaer and have performed at a consistently high level throughout the season. Victor Lindelof is likely to be the first choice centre-back, the question is who will partner him in the absence of Harry Maguire. Since his return, Eric Bailly has not quite reached full form and it is arguable Axel Tuanzebe has been putting in the more impressive performances as of late. Therefore, Tuanzebe should be the player to partner Lindelof.
In the middle, Fred and Scott McTominay have been Solskjaer’s go-to midfielders in all the big games throughout the season. However, the midfield battle is going to be key and the argument could be made that Paul Pogba should be starting in this position. His ball control, dribbling and passing qualities is what makes him well-suited to playing in the double pivot and frees up the wings for the likes of Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood. Previous performances has shown that Pogba works better when partnered with Fred in the pivot, as opposed to McTominay, therefore Fred should be the one to partner the Frenchman.
Higher up the field, as already mentioned, Rashford and Greenwood should start. Rashford’s best performances have come from left-wing, therefore if he is to start, this is the position he needs to be playing in. Mason Greenwood’s recent run of good form makes him a top contender for a starting spot and with Edinson Cavani likely to start up-front, Greenwood would be playing off the right.
Alongside the full-backs, the only other certain starter for Man Utd is Bruno Fernandes. His consistency and world class performances throughout the season makes him such a valuable asset to the team and the ideal player for a final. Leading the line will be the highly experienced and world-class finisher Edinson Cavani who will provide much needs movement in behind the Villarreal defenders alongside a high work rate.
Finals are never easy games to predict. Each one is unique and game plans of either team can change drastically in order to play an unpredictable style of football. With Utd potentially being without their main defender and captain, Villarreal will be hopeful to breach their defence. Nevertheless, United have been favourites to win this competition since they entered at the beginning of the year and with their attacking talent and creative qualities, it is hard to predict anything other than a Utd victory.
Therefore, the score prediction is: Villarreal 1 – 2 Man United
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