By Billy Gaddi
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is readying his Manchester United side for tonight’s Europa League final against Unai Emery’s Villarreal.
Despite Emery being a serial Europa League winner, winning the trophy three times with Sevilla, Solskjaer will go into this tie with confidence following a bright season.
Solskjaer has not been short of his critics in his tenure at Old Trafford but winning the Europa League and finishing second in the league could be the brightest the future of the club has looked since Sir Alex Ferguson.
Although Mourinho was able to win a nontraditional treble whilst at the theatre of dreams, he was not able to replicate that in the league in the same season, finishing sixth.
Villareal have not had the most memorable of seasons minus their Europa League run, finishing 7th in the league and being knocked out of the Copa Del Rey in the quarter-finals by Levante.
The yellow submarine will be hoping to head back to Spain with the Europa League trophy and Champions League football as a result after missing out on qualification through La Liga.
Both sides are not without their injury worries however with Manchester United without Phil Jones, Anthony Martial and a doubtful Harry Maguire, whereas Villareal won’t have Iborra and maybe not Chukwueze or Foyth, both sides will have to look to their remaining squads for inspiration.
Villareal does not usually concede first, only doing so once in their last eight matches and not doing so at all in their whole Europa League campaign whereas United tend not to concede goals at all with having the most in the competition with 62.5% of games ending with a clean sheet for Man united.
Manchester United 3-2 Villareal AET
This may seem like a very hefty score line, but in the previous six Europa League finals there has been an average of 4.0 goals.
Manchester United seem to score most in the second half with roughly 72% of their Europa League goals coming after half-time, and I expect them to do the same again here.
Villareal are no walkover and I expect the game to go the distance and more so with Villareal possessing 2 of the most lethal attackers in the competition in Paco Alcacer and Gerard Moreno who are both on six goals in the competition.
A win for the red devils would end Villareal’s 23 game undefeated streak against non-Spanish opposition.
No doubt Ole will be gunning for silverware, but he will need to sink the yellow submarine to do so.