The domestic season across the major countries in Europe has ended. However, the finals for the continental championships are set to go down this week beginning with the UEFA Europa League on Wednesday.
The unique Gdansk stadium in Poland will host the 50th final of this competition as Villarreal faces Manchester United.
Villarreal will attempt to win its first-ever European title after crashing out in many semi-finals. While Ole-Gunnar Solskjaer will be desperate to win his first piece of managerial silverware with the Manchester club.
It is fair to expect an exciting matchup when both teams take to the stage tomorrow.
Villarreal’s Road To The Final
Both teams have journeyed through different routes leading up to the final of this season’s Europa League. Nevertheless, they have been excellent ambassadors of their respective federations with sweeping wins all the way.
Villarreal topped group I comprising of Sivasspor, Qarabag and Maccabi Tel-Aviv. The Yellow Submarines claimed 16 points out of a possible 18 to qualify for the knockout stage.
The Spanish outfit cruised past Salzburg 4-1 on aggregate in the round of 32 before thrashing Dynamo Kyiv 4-0 on aggregate in the round of 16.
They overcame Dynamo Zagreb 3-1 in the quarterfinals courtesy of outstanding performances from Gerard Moreno in both legs.
Unai Emery was back to face his former employers in the semi-final. Another effective showing in both legs ensured they managed a 2-1 aggregate win against Arsenal.
Manchester United’s Journey To Gdansk
The English giants had to weather what seemed like a disappointing end to the UEFA Champions League season.
The Red Devils finished third behind PSG and Leipzig in the UCL to join the Europa League competition in the round of 32.
Manchester United swept away Real Sociedad 4-0 on aggregate before grinding out a 2-1 win over tough opponents, AC Milan in the round of 16.
Ole-Gunnar Solskjaer’s men did not break a sweat in the quarterfinals as they scored twice in each leg to book a semi-final place.
In a repeat of the 2007 UCL quarterfinals, the 2017 Europa League Champions qualified ahead of Roma once again with a combined 8-5 scoreline.
What To Expect
While Manchester United finished the domestic season in wretched form, the overall campaign can be considered a decent one.
A continental title will indeed add gloss to the remarkable strides Solskjaer has made since joining the club. The Norwegian will be eager to win the title in Gdansk after four successive semi-final defeats.
The Manchester side is sweating on the fitness of captain, Harry Maguire. They have struggled in defence without the 28-year-old, winning just one in four matches. Anthony Martial may likely miss out on this final with an ankle injury.
However, the United manager will be banking on the recent vein of form of Edinson Cavani and Mason Greenwood.
Emery is without doubt the most successful coach in the Europa League. The Spanish coach won the competition for three seasons successively and will hope to bring his experience to bear. There is also the added motivation of qualifying for the Champions League having finished 7th in La Liga.
Nigerian winger may also be missing from the encounter due to an injury he picked in the sen
Four matches involving both teams have ended in goalless draws.
Overall, this final will be keenly contested. However, based on quality Manchester United is the slight favourite.