Europa Final: Man United Seek To End Four-Year Trophy Drought
Manchester United will hope to end their four-year trophy drought, when they take on Spanish side Villarreal in today’s final of the UEFA Europa League in Gdańsk, Poland.
The last time United lifted a trophy was in the 2016/2017 season under the tutelage of Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho, who led them to the League Cup and Europa League titles.
Since then, United have gone four years without winning anything and will hope to end the unwanted run when they face the Yellow Submarine.
The Red Devils have undoubtedly been the favourites to go all the way in the Europa League since their ill-fated Champions League run came to an end.
And they could now follow in the footsteps of Chelsea, who in 2013 became the first and only English side to win the Europa League after dropping out of Europe’s elite competition.
Solskjaer had steered his side to five wins from seven knockout matches before their recent defeat at Roma and a quarter-final success over Granada means that United certainly know how to get the better of Spanish sides on the continental stage.
The 2013 Norwegian Cup won with Molde was the last time Solskjaer pick up a silverware as a manager and adding to that modest haul will be no easy feat against Europa League expert Unai Emery, who himself will endeavour to steer Villarreal into a new era with their first-ever major trophy 98 years after their inception.
Emery is no stranger when it comes to winning the Europa League after landing it three straight years (2014, 2015, 2016) at Sevilla.
The only time he failed to win the trophy was at Arsenal in 2019 when they were hammered 4-1 by Chelsea.
On the injury front, Solskjaer has offered a pessimistic update on the availability of Harry Maguire, who continues to battle back from an ankle injury but is now considered unlikely to be passed fit for the final.
Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof should therefore partner up in defence while Phil Jones misses out once more, and David de Gea is expected to get the nod in goal over Dean Henderson.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw will reprise their regular roles in defence after being granted rests against Wolves, while Fred was not involved due to a minor knock but should be fine to man the midfield alongside Scott McTominay.
Anthony Martial is out, but a complete overhaul of the forward line should see Amad Diallo and Daniel James make way for Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba while Mata has no chance of keeping his place over Bruno Fernandes despite his winner against Wolves at the weekend.
Mason Greenwood and Edinson Cavani are both well-rested and desperate for the chance to spearhead the attack, but with five goals in his last three European outings, the veteran Uruguayan should be given the nod against his former boss Emery.
And for Villarreal, Emery confirmed that Samuel Chukwueze will not be in action after he failed a late fitness test.
Tottenham Hotspur loanee Juan Foyth is also facing a race against time to be fit for the final due to a hamstring issue sustained against Arsenal, so Mario Gaspar should continue to bomb down the right flank.
Emery has a big call to make in between the sticks as Geronimo Rulli did not look at all convincing over the two legs of the semi-final, so Sergio Asenjo may earn a recall to the first XI for the final.
Carlos Bacca and Paco Alcacer are both vying for the chance to partner the irrepressible Moreno up top; the former was given the nod against Real Madrid but failed to flourish, so Alcacer will hope to come back in.
By James Agberebi
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Source: Complete Sports
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