Manchester United and Villareal have reached the final of the prestigious Europa League for the 20/21 season.
This will be the first time in four years for Manchester United will play in the final of UEL. They last won the competition in the 16/17 season.
ManUnited are chasing their first title under Ole Gunner Solksjaer.
Villareal have never reached the final of any major competitions. They are chasing their first major title in their history.
Even though a European final is important for the two teams participating, both Villareal and Manchester United will be desperate for a win – for various reasons.
For Unai and Villareal it is a chance to capture a trophy that has ducked them in their entire history.
As for Ole, this is a golden chance to end his long-awaited fight for a trophy as United boss.
He will attempt to win his first trophy as the manager of Manchester United with hopes that victory could initiate his stay to be a little longer at Old Trafford.
How Did They Reach Here?
Manchester United dropped out of the Champions League group stage despite winning their first three games.
They entered the competition during the Round of 32 and faced spanish side Real Sociedad. The game ended with a 4-0 aggregate victory for the Red Devils.
Round of 16 was somewhat a difficult tie as they faced Italian giants A.C Milan. The first leg was a 1-1 tie and they narrowly edged Milan in the second leg with a 1-0 victory.
Just like the Ro32, United went up against Spanish side Granada in the Quarter Finals and beat them comfortably with a 4-0 aggregate score.
They showed their true dominance and intention to win this entire competition during their semi-final clash against Roma.
The first leg ended with a dominating 6-2 victory. However, they lost their second leg 3-2.
Since, the first leg score was too big, United progressed towards the finals with a 8-5 aggregate win.
Villareal started their journey from the group stage. They comfortably topped their group with 5 wins and 1 draw.
In the Round of 32, they faced RB Salzburg and beat them with a 4-1 aggregate scoreline.
Similarly, they went up against Dynamo Kyiv and progressed to the Quarter-Finals with a dominating 4-0 victory over two legs.
They later faced Dinamo Zagreb and faced a little tight competition. Despite any signs of struggle, the final score was 3-1 with Villareal moving forward.
The semi-final match was somewhat memorable and a reminder of the past. Unai Emery was sacked by Arsenal before Villareal picked him up.
So, Unai wanted to remind his old team that they did him wrong.
His new side took the lead of the game in the first leg with a 2-1 win. The only common thing in the game was that both teams were down to ten men.
The second leg, however, was a 0-0 draw and as a result, Unai Emery knocked his former side out of the competition with his new team.
Respective League Performances
Manchester United finished second in the Premier League with a total of seventy-four points.
The Red Devils have improved quite alot towards the latter stage of the year.
They reached two domestic semi-finals. One in the FA Cup where they were knocked out by eventual champions Leicester City.
And the other, in the Carabao Cup, where they were defeated by their city rivals and champions Manchester City.
Despite playing so many games in different competitions, the end result for the Red side of Manchester is actually good.
They have qualified comfortably for the 21/22 season of the Champions League.
Had they not reached top four, winning the Europa League would have automatically helped them reach the Champions League.
The Spanish side finished seventh in the La Liga with a total of fifty-eight points.
The Yellow Submarines have had a lackluster of a season with some better signs of improvement.
Although they failed to reach the finals of the Copa Del Rey, their recent strings of performance has shown their willingness to improve.
Unai Emery and the entire Villareal board want to play in the Champions League and also win their first major trophy in history.
However, since they finished in seventh, they will have to take part in the qualification rounds of the Europa League.
But, if they manage to win this final, they will have killed two-birds with one stone: Win their first major trophy + play in the Champions League.
What Do The Managers Feel?
Ole Gunnar Solksjaer has become the first manager to help United secure successive top-four finishes since Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013.
He now hopes to end a four-year barren trophyless run in Poland.
“You always feel pressure to win things at Manchester United. Progress in the league shows progress.”, said Ole.
“The next step is to win trophies and challenge in the Premier League as well.”, he added.
“I know my players will believe they can win it and that we can move on to better things”, Ole told in a recent interview.
He then said that getting the first trophy is a big step towards the right direction.
“It’s goind to be special. You’ve got to be proud to be able to lead a Manchester United team out to a final”, said Solksjaer.
“It’s been a fantastic journey, and, as we say in Norwegian, veien er målet (the goal is the journey). This is just a step on the road to bringing our Man United back.”
Unai Emery knows what it takes to win the Europa League.
He has triumphed three times in a row with Sevilla from 2014 till 2016. Not just that, he reached the final two years ago and lost to Chelsea.
“Manchester United were the favorites from the start to win this tournament and they’ve managed to reach the final.”, said an excited Emery.
“There were other teams who were favourites and haven’t done that but we have always seen ourselves as a contender”, added Unai.
“The Premier League is dominating football in Europe.”, Emery added.
“But to reach a final, you always have to knock out big teams, or teams that have knocked out big teams themselves, like Dinamo Zagreb.”
“Games like these are a challenge. They tell you what level your team is at.”
Villareal are the only spanish team in the final of the Europe’s major tournaments (Both UCL and UEL).
They denied the Premier League a clean sweep for the European finalists as Manchester City will go up against Chelsea in the final of the Champions League.
If Villareal defeat Manchester United, Spain will boast seven of the last ten Europa League champions, while the remaning three belongs to Chelsea in 2013 and 2019, and United in 2017.