Wednesday, 26th of May 2021
Europa League Final
Villarreal vs Manchester United
Venue – Stadion Miejski
Kick Off – 8.00 pm
Odds – Home Win 7/2 Away Win 17/20
Watch On – Virgin Media/BT Sport
Referee – Clement Turpin
The Europa League final rolls into Gdansk on Wednesday.
La Liga side Villarreal will be looking to continue the Spanish dominance that’s ruled over this competition in recent years, as they face the English powerhouse of, Manchester United.
This final was due to be played in the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium in Seville, Spain. However, like everything else, Covid put a halt on those plans, with last years final swiftly relocating to Cologne, Germany. This has pushed final host cities back a year, with the 2021/22 final now being held in Seville.
But that’s not what we care about today, it’s all about the 2020/21 final in Gdansk, that’ll see 9,500 spectators inside the venue for hopefully a historic night of football.
With a place in next seasons UEFA Super Cup, and more importantly, the 2021/22 Champions League competition up for grabs, both clubs will be chomping at the bit to get their hands on UEFA’s secondary major honour.
The Yellow Submarine have been unstoppable outside of Spain in this competition this season. They haven’t lost in any of their last 12 Europa League games on their travels. Plus, they’ve kept a clean sheet in their last five European games while on that run too.
The Spanish side topped their group that contained Maccabi Tel Aviv, Qarabag and Turkish side, Sivasspor. They dispatched of Red Bull Salzburg, and Dynamo’s Kiev & Zagreb during the knock-out phases.
Ironically, they dumped out Arsenal, putting to bed any hope of an all-English final. Something that must have gave manager Unai Emery great satisfaction, eliminating his former side.
Arguably, there’s more riding on this game from a Villarreal point-of-view. They finished 7th in La Liga this season, meaning this is last chance saloon, if they’re to play Champions League football during their next campaign.
This is also the first major final in the clubs 98-year history, no pressure then lads.
On the flip side, their opponents have been involved in every major final imaginable during their heyday.
This is Manchester United’s second Europa League final, having lifted the now famous trophy back in 2017.
Despite that, this is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first final as Manchester United manager. He’ll be desperate to get this monkey off his back, and hopefully start a steady flow of silverware back into Old Trafford.
Originally, they entered this season’s Europa League via the Champions League backdoor, after finishing third in Group H in UEFA’s primary European competition.
While they had a difficult run of fixtures on paper, AC Milan were the only side to offer any real hassle, in the Round of 16. The Red Devils steamrolled Real Sociedad, Granada, and Roma in the other knockout rounds.
These sides previously met in the Champions League group-stages during the 2005/06 and 2008/09 editions of the tournament, with all four encounters ending as scoreless draws.
Another intriguing nugget of information concerns French side, Monaco.
If Manchester United come out victorious, they’ll be rewarded the spot in the Champions League group-stages reserved for the winner of the Europa League.
This is down to the fact United have already qualified via their league position, and UEFA’s association ranking. A real kick to the rocks of Villarreal if we’ve ever seen one.
However, the Spanish side will be happy in the knowledge they aren’t struggling on the injury front. Former Tottenham youngster Juan Foyth may be out, and midfielder Samuel Chukwueze is a certain to miss this one.
United will be without Anthony Martial and Phil Jones. There’s also questions over the availability of both Fred and Harry Maguire. The pair have travelled with the squad but could still miss out as they’re carrying knocks.
Prediction – Manchester United in extra-time.