After a painful run of four successive semi-final defeats, including against eventual winners Sevilla in this competition last season, the Premier League runners-up finally ended that particular hoodoo despite a second-leg defeat in an 8-5 aggregate goal-fest against AS Roma and will now look to finish the job in the northern Polish city of Gdansk on Wednesday night.
But standing in United’s way is a Villarreal side managed by three-time Europa League winner Unai Emery – an expert in this competition who masterminded a triumph over former club Arsenal to ensure that there were not two major all-English finals in Europe this year.
Date, kick-off time and venue
The Europa League Final between Villarreal and Manchester United kicks-off at 8pm BST on Wednesday, May 26, 2021.
The Stadion Miejski in Gdansk will be restricted to 25 per cent of its usual capacity due to Covid-19 rules, with United receiving 2,000 tickets for a game that will feature a crowd of 9,500 people.
Villarreal vs Man Utd team news
Villarreal could welcome back Tottenham loanee Juan Foyth and winger Samuel Chukwueze for their first major European final appearance, but former Leicester midfielder Vicente Iborra remains sidelined with damaged knee ligaments and has not played since December.
Ex-Spurs and Watford midfielder Etienne Capoue is available after being suspended for the semi-final second leg against Arsenal, meanwhile.
As for United, captain Harry Maguire remains a major doubt due to an ankle ligament injury that has seen him miss the last four matches, though he was included in the 26-man travelling squad announced on Monday.
In his most recent Maguire update, Solskjaer said: “Of course he wants to play, it’s going to be up to the doctor to say if he’s ready.
“I don’t expect him to play, it doesn’t look great. I’m forever the optimist, I’m still hopeful. He has to train on Tuesday when we’re over there if he is to play.
“It’s not many days, I don’t expect him to be ready. I hope the final gives our players the hunger for more.”
Anthony Martial and Phil Jones (both knee) will not travel, though midfielders Scott McTominay and Fred are both fit.
Solskjaer has rotated his squad over recent weeks to cope with a hectic fixture pile-up and with one eye firmly fixed on this final, making 10 changes for the final day 2-1 Premier League win at Wolves – featuring a goal from highly-rated teenage winger Anthony Elanga – with second place long since wrapped up.
Manchester United’s 26-man Europa League Final squad
Goalkeepers: David De Gea, Dean Henderson, Lee Grant, Nathan Bishop
Defenders: Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Alex Telles, Axel Tuanzebe, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Brandon Williams
Midfielders: Amad, Bruno Fernandes, Fred, Daniel James, Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba, Donny van de Beek
Forwards: Edinson Cavani, Anthony Elanga, Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford, Shola Shoretire
Where to watch Villarreal vs Man Utd
TV channel: Wednesday’s final will be shown live on BT Sport 1 and BT Sport Ultimate, with coverage beginning at 6:30pm.
Live stream: BT Sport subscribers will be able to watch the match online via the website or BT Sport app.
Villarreal vs Man Utd prediction
United did not end the domestic season in great shape, with poor results against Fulham, Liverpool and Leicester preceding that final day win at Wolves. However, Solskjaer was juggling a remarkably congested fixture list after ownership protests forced the Liverpool game to be postponed and had to make sweeping changes accordingly.
Villarreal did not follow suit on the final day of the LaLiga season on Saturday, given that they were away against a Real Madrid side still battling for the title.
Before that came comfortable wins against Sevilla and Valladolid, though they also shipped four goals against Celta Vigo and ended up finishing seventh with a place in next season’s inaugural Europa Conference League – unless they can bypass that and get into the Champions League by winning on Wednesday.
United are certainly not fazed at all away from Old Trafford, having gone a full Premier League season unbeaten away from home – the last team to achieve that admirable feat was Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ side.
Emery is a master of the Europa League, having also reached the final with Arsenal, but we’re backing Solskjaer to claim his first piece of major managerial silverware in Gdansk in a tight, nervy contest.
Head to head (h2h) history and results
All four previous meetings between these two teams have ended in goalless draws. Hopefully that’s not an omen for this final…
Betting odds and tips
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