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2021 Europa League Breakdown: Villarreal Meets Manchester United

The 2021 Europa League season comes to a conclusion on Wednesday when Manchester United and Villarreal meet in the final.

The Red Devils are led by a host of superstar talents, including Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Bruno Fernandes after finishing second in the Premier League during the 2020/21 campaign.

Meanwhile, Villarreal boasts a strong attack that features Paco Alcacer and Gerard Moreno. The Yellow Submarine missed out on European football next season during La Liga play, but a Europa League title could jolt the Spanish side back into a major competition.

Spanish sides have had significant success in Europe’s two biggest tournaments — Champions League and Europa League — over the past two decades. 

La Liga’s best have won 15 consecutive titles over non-Spanish clubs dating back to the 2000/01 season when Bayern defeated Valencia in the UCL final and Liverpool topped Alaves in the Europa final.

Let’s take a closer look at Villarreal and Manchester United as they prepare for their semi final matchup.

VILLARREAL vs. MANCHESTER UNITED

Top Goalscorers (UEL)

Villarreal: Paco Alcacer/Gerard Moreno (6)

Manchester United: Bruno Fernandes (5)

Key Injuries/Suspensions

Villarreal: Vicente Iborra, Juan Foyth, Samuel Chukwueze

Manchester United: Harry Maguire, Phil Jones, Anthony Martial

History

Villarreal and Manchester United have met on four previous occasions, but each match has surprisingly resulted in a scoreless draw. 

The two sides last got together during the 2008/09 Champions League group stage when Villarreal and United advanced out of Group E. The Red Devils went on to lose in the final that year after facing Barcelona.

Breakdown

The likely absence of Harry Maguire is significant for Man United at the heart of the Red Devils back line, and with the Englishman sidelined Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will seemingly turn to Axel Tuanzebe.

Although United’s season as a whole will be seen as a success after reaching Champions League again in 2021/22, the Red Devils haven’t finished this campaign as strong as they would’ve liked.

United has lost three of its last six matches to close out the season, including defeats against Leicester City and Liverpool.

Meanwhile, Villarreal’s form to close out the La Liga campaign has been less than stellar, with losses to Real Madrid and Celta Vigo in the last month.

Manager Unai Emery has plenty of experience in the Europa League, winning three times with Sevilla and reaching the final another two times with Arsenal and Villarreal.

Prediction: 3-1 Manchester United

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