UEFA Europa League: Villarreal vs. Manchester United Preview and Odds - 05/26/2021

by Big Al Staff

Europa League Final Preview: Villarreal versus Manchester United.

Villarreal plays Manchester United in the championship match of the Europa League on a neutral field at the Stadion Miejski in Gdansk, Poland. The CBS Sports Network broadcasts the game at 3 PM ET.

Villarreal reached the final after defeating Arsenal by a 2-1 aggregate goal score in the semifinals. The Yellow Submarine won the first leg, 2-1, at home on April 29th before a 0-0 draw on the road in the second leg. Villarreal defeated Dynamo Zagreb by a 2-1 aggregate score in the quarterfinals. They beat Dynamo Kyiv with a 4-0 aggregate score in the Round of 16, and they advanced past Salzburg in the opening Round of 32 knockout stage, with a 4-1 aggregate score. 

The Yellow Submarine last played on Saturday in a 2-1 loss at Real Madrid that concluded their La Liga season. Villarreal finished in 7th place, 28 points behind Atletico Madrid, who the league championship. They were three points behind Real Betis for sixth place in the table. 

Manager Unai Emery is no stranger to the title match in this competition. Emery won the Europa League title three times as the skipper for Sevilla. He later took Arsenal to the finals in 2016-17 before losing to Chelsea in the championship match. 

Attacking midfielder Samuel Chukwueze is a doubt for this match after leaving the pitch in the second leg with Arsenal with an injury. He did not play on Saturday against Real Madrid. Chukwueze has participated in the training leading up to this match.

Manchester United reached this match after beating Roma by an 8-5 aggregate score in the semifinals. The Red Devils won the first leg on the road by a 6-2 score. They lost the second leg at home, 3-2, but still advanced from the comfortable lead they earned in the opening game. Man United defeated Granada by a 4-0 aggregate score in the quarterfinals. They advanced past AC Milan in the Round of 16 by a 2-1 aggregate score after outlasting Real Sociedad by a 4-0 aggregate score in the Round of 32 first knockout stage. 

The Red Devils come off a 2-1 win at Wolverhampton on Sunday that concluded their English Premier League season. With second place in the table clinched, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was able to rest most of his usual starting XI in preparation for this match. Man United finished 12 points behind league champion Manchester City. They closed five points ahead of the previous champion Liverpool and seven points of a Chelsea side that plays Man City on Saturday for the Champions League title. 

Solskjaer may not have center-back Harry Maguire for this match, who suffered a knee injury earlier this month. Maguire not only anchors the Red Devils’ backline, but he plays a vital role in advancing the ball up the pitch. Eric Bailly likely takes his spot if he is not able to play. Maguire did not take part in the Tuesday evening training. 

Man United has won six European titles, including the Europa League under Jose Mourinho in 2017. Solskjaer is looking to win his first trophy as the Red Devils’ manager. 

English teams have lost nine in a row when facing a Spanish team in a Europa League final. BookMaker lists Manchester United as a -0.5 goal line favorite with the total set at 2.5.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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