Manchester Utd vs Villarreal Final – LIVE Reddit Soccer 30/09/2021
The five meetings in European competition between Manchester United and Villarreal have all ended in draws, with four of them goalless, except for last season’s Europa League final (1-1), which the Spanish side won 11-10 on penalties.
The four Champions League clashes between United and Villarreal have all finished 0-0, making it the most played fixture in the history of the competition to see no goals scored. The Red Devils are winless in their past seven games against Spanish teams in the Champions League (drawn three, lost four), with their last such victory coming against Real Sociedad back in October 2013 (1-0).
The stage was set for perennial Europa League winner Unai Emery to get revenge on Arsenal after being given the boot by the North London outfit, and the Europa League master outclassed European novice Mikel Arteta to dump his former side out of the tournament.
Villarreal arguably should have been out of sight in the first leg of their semi-final as first-half goals from Manu Trigueros and Raul Albiol put them in the driving seat against a toothless Arsenal, but Nicolas Pepe’s spot kick gave Arsenal hope before Emery once again stepped foot onto the Emirates sidelines.
However, the Yellow Submarine avenged their two previous Champions League exits to Arsenal by holding them to a goalless stalemate in North London – during which Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hit the post twice – and Villarreal are now just 90 minutes away from ending their agonising wait for a maiden major honour.
Not even an early injury to scintillating attacker Samuel Chukwueze could dampen the spirits of Villarreal on the night, and as he did time and time again with Sevilla, Emery will endeavour to stamp his authority on Europe’s secondary competition as he seeks a fourth Europa League title since 2014.
It is not just Emery’s personal record on the line this week, as Villarreal’s 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid at the weekend – where Yeremy’s opener was cancelled out by Karim Benzema and Luka Modric – means that a spot in the UEFA Conference League looms unless they can come up trumps in Gdansk and return to the biggest stage of them all in the Champions League.
With an astonishing record of 12 wins and two draws in their 14 Europa League matches so far, Villarreal may be the underdogs going into Wednesday’s final, but Emery just seems to have that secret formula for success on the continental stage and Man United would commit an act of folly if they failed to do their research on the opposing coach.
Having reached the semi-finals of Europe’s secondary competition three times in the past, Villarreal have now become the 11th different Spanish side to book their place in a continental final, and history favours them too, as English teams have now lost nine times in a row when facing Spanish sides in the final.
Furthermore, Emery’s exciting crop have found the back of the net in 13 of their 14 Europa League games so far this term – with the goalless draw at the Emirates being the only exception – and Gerard Moreno has been at the heart of it all with six goals and four assists en route to Gdansk.
Emery failed to secure a record-breaking haul of four Europa League wins with Arsenal after overseeing a 4-1 defeat to Chelsea in the 2018-19 final, but having already produced the goods against one English powerhouse, Villarreal must be paid the respect they deserve by a United side who are also no stranger to success in the tournament.
It was Jose Mourinho’s Man United side that broke Emery’s hot streak of three successive Europa League wins in the 2016-17 season, where they overcame Ajax in the final, and the Red Devils will now seek to sink the Yellow Submarine and add some silverware to the trophy cabinet for the first time since that triumph four years ago.
Having managed to delay Manchester City’s title coronation for weeks on end, United’s inevitable second-placed finish in the Premier League was confirmed earlier this month as Solskjaer’s side lost their golden touch, although three games in five days in the wake of Old Trafford protests hardly helped their cause.
With more than one eye on the Gdansk final, Solskjaer placed faith in his academy talents against Wolves on the final day of the Premier League season, and it paid off as Anthony Elanga’s bullet header preceded a coolly dispatched penalty from Juan Mata as they ended the season with a flourish.
The Red Devils had only taken one point from nine on offer before spoiling Nuno Espirito Santo’s leaving party at Molineux, and their most recent Europa League fixture also ended in defeat to Roma, but the damage had already been done during a domineering first leg at Old Trafford.