After the end of a grueling season of club football, it’s now time for the football fanatics and teams to shift their focus onto the finals of Europe’s elite leagues. Almost 10 months of fight among the 48 teams for one of the most coveted trophies in Europe, scintillating display of football from some of the biggest competitors in club football, and individual brilliance from top-class players were some of the elements we witnessed in this year’s competition. Yes, you guessed it right, we’re talking about the finals of the Europa league scheduled to take place at Gdansk, Poland. Two of the standout performers of the league will be going face to face against each other in the finals. Continental giants Manchester United are locking horns with Spanish side Villarreal in the finals in an enticing fixture tonight.
United is in the finals of the Europa League exactly after a gap of 4 years. The last time they were in the finals, United managed to beat Ajax and lift this trophy for the first time. This year too, they will be aiming to win this Europe’s second-tier competition and end the season with a trophy. Villarreal, coached by Emery, is nicknamed as the giant killers for having the epithet of killing big teams. Emery has previously won the trophy three consecutive times between 2014 and 2016 with Sevilla.
With a view to becoming the European champions for the 1sttime, Villarreal will definitely go all out to win this. It remains to be seen which of these two teams win this mouthwatering final clash in what would be the perfect engrossing encounter for the fans before the UCL final. United or Villarreal, let’s see who wins this prestigious trophy and takes the centre stage at Gdansk.
Why to watch out for
There is absolutely no reason in the world why you shouldn’t watch the finals of a tournament of EuropaLeague’s caliber. One of Europe’s biggest sporting spectacle, the Europa League has given the football fans much to cheer about this season. It has presented us all from big upsets to some eye-catching display of football from the top teams this season. Manchester United is fighting to get the hands-on their only silverware this season after missing out on the PL trophy. They know very well that winning the EuropaLeague would salvage some pride for them and help them to end the season on a high.
Ole Gunner Solskjaer’s men have been exceptionally well this season baring the last few matches. Their momentum seems to have slightly dropped after losing consecutive matches to Liverpool and Leicester. But after winning against Wolves, they have done the perfect dress rehearsal for the finals. Ole will definitely set his sights on the UEL and help to win the first major trophy for United in 4years.
Villarreal, on the other hand, will also try to shrug off their tag of underdogs in the final. Unai Emery is well known for having a habit of winning when it comes to the final of the Europa League. He has previously won the trophy times and will be hungry for a fourth one. Villarreal has also exceedingly well this season making life difficult for top teams with their superior gameplay. It is known to all that Emery is a brilliant tactician and can make life difficult for the big teams. The men in yellow will definitely want to win the league and cause a big upset to United. It remains to be seen whether they can live up to the expectations and win their first-ever cup final. The match is slated to start at 00:30 IST or 19:00 GMT.
The Red Devils are coming onto the match on the back of a superb away win against Wolverhampton Wanderers. It was the last league game of the season and Ole’s men finished it having held their head high. Ole played almost a second-string side against Wolves to give his first-team players a much-needed break. A superb header from Anthony Elanga from a Daniel James cross and a penalty goal from Mata won it for United.
Solskjaer’s side ended the game with seven academy players on the pitch and practically no first-team players. Hannibal Mejbri, Shola Shoretiere, and William Fish all made their senior team debuts on the same day. Elanga was the standout performer of the match as he was quite lively up front. Axel Tuanzebe also performed excellently in defense along with VanDeBeek in midfield to hand the team a win. They ended their 3 matches winless streak and returned to winning ways just before the Europa final.
In the last five matches that United played, they have only won twice, lost two times, and drawn one. It’s indeed a great point for Solskjaer to have his team in the greatest of form ahead of the big game. All of the senior United players are poised to return to the first team in this crunch game. United have to be on the top of their form if they are to beat Villarreal and win the trophy. Let’s see if Solskjaer can win the European Cup as a coach after having won UCL as a player for United.
The Yellow Submarines will be playing this match after suffering a heartbreaking loss against Madrid in their final LaLiga match. They were ahead until the 82nd minute and squandered their lead in the span of 10 minutes thereafter. Sublime strikes from Benzema and Modric ensured that the Los Blancos finish the season only two points behind Atletico. For Emery’s side, Yeremi Pino scored the only goal in the 19th minute. But for the greater part of the game, Emery’s side was able to match with Madrid’s play and kept them at bay. They were defensively very sound and were fantastic in attack also. This team indeed has the potential to upset any team on the big stage with their excellent gameplay.
In their last five matches, they have beaten the likes of Sevilla 4-0 and held Arsenal to a goalless draw. They have got 2 wins, 2 losses, and 1 draw in the process. Undoubtedly they are on a great run of form having conceded only 2 goals in the last three. Three clean sheets in the last five matches are truly appreciatable and also holding a team like Madrid for about 80mins. Villarreal definitely has much in their ranks to also play some quality football against United and provide a stern test to them. Let’s see whether they can keep their good run of form in the final and produce a solid performance on display.
United will be traveling to the Stadion Energa Gdansk with a very serious injury concern on their mind. Their star captain and defensive mainstay Harry Maguire sustained a very serious ankle injury and will probably be ruled out. He faces the race to be fit in the time but after yesterday’s training session, it seems that United will be without their marquee defender in this all-important clash. Another man, Anthony Martial didn’t travel with the squad as he hadn’t recovered from his knee injury. Brazilian midfielder Fred suffered a minor knock but would be fine to partner Mctominay in midfield. Axel Tuanzebe is the most likely one to company Lindelof in defense. All first-team players are expected to make a return to the squad. Other than this two, there are no such injuries in the team.
Unai Emery doesn’t have much to ponder about injuries while going to face the team from Manchester in the final. Spurs Loanee Juan Foyth sustained a hamstring injury against the Gunners at the Emirates and so he will likely miss out. In the Argentine’s absence, Mario Gasper will start in the final on the right flank. There will be a tossup between Bacca and Alcacer regarding a place in the striker position alongside Moreno. Apart from this, there are no injury concerns in the team and Emery has a fit squad to choose from.
Players to watch out for
The Portuguese maestro, nicknamed Mr. United, will be the Red Devil’s go-to man in the finals. He has produced some inhuman sublime performances for United all through the season and will be eager to deliver in the final match of the season. Fernandes has always delivered when it mattered the most and has taken himself to another level this season. He already has scored 28 goals and a whopping 18 assists for United. Against Villarreal, Solskjaer would hope that his main man fires in all aspects and hand them the elusive trophy.
The Uruguayan, nicknamed the “El Matador” has just revamped himself in united colors this year. He has just aptly maintained his dominance in the striker position and has been a nightmare for defenders. His heading and shooting skills within the box are always any coach would boast of. Even at the age of 34, he is as lively as before. Cavani has already found the back of the net 16 times and given 5assists in the limited matches he played. He has five goals in his last three European outings for the club. He will be looking to polish his scoring boots once again when he faces a strong Villarreal defense.
The Spanish striker is in swashbuckling form for the Yellow Submarines this season. He is Villarreal’s main man when it comes to scoring goals upfront. He is a fox in the box, has a whopping conversion rate, and doesn’t let any chance go away. Moreno has already bagged 29goals and 10assists for Villarreal and will be eager to make a mark in the final. If Villarreal is to win against United, Moreno has to be lively in the opposition box. He will pounce on the opportunity that their main man Maguire won’t be available and thus has an easier task. Moreno will definitely try to be a major threat for the United defense for sure.
The youngster has been the standout man for Villarreal in defence throughout the calendar year. He is one of the most sought players in the transfer market and is the main target of United also. Torres has just turned out to be a Rockwall for the Spanish side’s defence alongside. He has been able to provide stability to their defence and that’s why he’s one of their most trusted soldiers. He is excellent in aerial duels and also in tackles. Although being a defender, he has provided 3 goals and 2 assists for Villarreal this season. Emery would want Torres to be on top form to resist United’s attack and also build up their own attack.
In all respects, the Europa League final is bracing up for a fierce and enthralling encounter between these two teams. United is on the verge of winning the Europa League after a gap of four years and would be keen to grab their only silverware this season. Solskjaer would also want to have his first trophy at United and would tell his boys to fight for one last time. Villarreal definitely would also be eager to win this elusive trophy and cap off a memorable season for the club. Emery’s men are nothing short of experience and can equally fight with United for the title.
To sum up, it’s going to be quite an entertaining fixture on the cards. Let’s see who lights up Gdansk tonight. Will the Red Devils are able to return with the trophy or will the Yellow Submarines cause a huge upset and win it? Stay tuned in to watch.
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