The stage is set for the Europa League final, with Spain’s Villarreal to face England’s Man United in Poland on Thursday morning Malaysian time.
Villarreal are searching for their first major honour, while United are eyeing their second Europa League title after winning the competition in 2017.
Photo via Eurosport
With kick-off approaching, lets get to know the participating teams.
The upcoming final will be the fifth meeting between the two clubs. Interestingly, all four previous encounters (in the 2005/06 and 2008/09 Champions League campaigns) have ended goalless.
Photo via Getty Images
Villarreal topped their group and remained unbeaten in the knockout rounds… defeating Salzburg, Dynamo Kiev, Dinamo Zagreb and Arsenal along the way to the final.
United entered the Round of 32 after dropping down from the Champions League.
Their record in the knockout round is tarnished only by their defeat to Roma in the second-leg of the semifinal, although they ended up winning the tie on aggregate.
The Red Devils’ journey to the final has taken them past Real Sociedad, AC Milan, Granada and Roma.
Villarreal will be United’s third Spanish opponent in this season’s Europa League campaign.
Photo via Eurosport
The matchup between managers pits a cup rookie against a Europa League specialist.
For United’s Ole Gunnar Solskjær, this will be the first ever major cup final of his career. The biggest title he had won before joining United was the Norwegian Cup in 2013.
Photo via Reuters
Villarreal’s Unai Emery, meanwhile, is a veteran of the tournament, having won the trophy three years in a row with Sevilla in 2014, 2015 and 2016. He was also a finalist with Arsenal in 2019.
Emery will also be very familiar with United, from his time in the Premier League with the Gunners.
Villarreal’s biggest headache will be to decide on their first-choice keeper. Geronimo Rulli had been unconvincing in the semis, with Sergio Asenjo likely to take over between the sticks for the final.
The Spaniards will also have to pick between Carlos Bacca and Paco Alcacer to partner Gerard Moreno in attack.
Probable lineup: Rulli/Asenjo; Foyth, Albiol, Torres, Pedraza; Pino, Capoue, Parejo, Trigueros: Moreno, Bacca
Photo via AFP
United also have goalkeeping decisions to make, with David de Gea and Dean Henderson both in the running for a place in the starting eleven.
Defender and captain Harry Maguire remains the biggest doubt for the Red Devils as he races against time to recover from an ankle injury.
He has been included in the travelling squad, but will undergo a late fitness test to determine if he will play any part in the final.
Probable lineup: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Lindelöf, Shaw; McTominay, Fred; Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Pogba; Cavani
Be sure to catch Villarreal vs Man United in the Europa League final at 2.55am Thursday morning, LIVE on Astro channel 819.
By: Nicholas Darren John