EUROPE: Europa League
Date: Wednesday, 26 May 2021
Kick-off at 21:00 UK/ 21:00 CET
Venue: Stadion Miejski (Gdańsk)
After eliminating Arsenal in the semi-finals, Villarreal seek to build on the perfect record La Liga clubs possess in Anglo-Spanish UEFA Europa League (UEL) finals (W2) in this 50th UEFA Cup/UEL showpiece. Their last seven UEL goals have come before HT, and they are yet to trail at the break in Europe this campaign (HT: W8, D5 – excludes a walkover result), and have conceded the opener just once across their previous eight competitive matches (W4, D1, L3).
Impressively, the ‘Yellow Submarine’ haven’t been sunk in any of their last 12 UEL games held outside of Spain (W7, D5), with Unai Emery’s men keeping a clean sheet in the previous five. Furthermore, they are undefeated vs non-Spanish opposition in 23 European fixtures (W16, D7 – excluding walkovers).
Currently on a seven-game competitive run of seeing both teams score (W3, D1, L3), and UEL winners as recently as 2017, Manchester United are a potent second-half threat, having scored 13 (72.22%) of their 18 UEL goals this term after HT. That’s certainly been the case recently, with five of their last 11 European efforts arriving after the 70th minute. They’ve also kept clean sheets in a competition-high 62.5% of their games this UEL campaign.
Though four of the last five UEL finals have witnessed under 1.5 first-half goals, Man United’s second-half prowess could see them defy a trend where all four previous H2Hs have ended in goalless draws. In addition to averaging 2.25 goals per knockout game this season, United have scored in all 16 UEL knockout games they’ve played outside of England (W9, D3, L4).
Players to watch: Villarreal’s Gerard Moreno has scored six UEL goals this term, with five arriving before HT. Meanwhile, leading the charts for Man United is Bruno Fernandes (five goals), who has netted openers in two of his three UEL goalscoring outings this season.
Villarreal’s form in last 5 matches: LWWLD.
Manchester Utd ’s form in last 5 matches: WDLLW.
PREDICTION: Draw/Away and Under 4.5