For Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, winning the Europa League would mean more than avoiding another trophyless season. He’s hoping Wednesday’s final will be the start of something bigger.
However, make no mistake, their Europa League rival for the night are no pushover. Managed by Europa League specialist Unai Emery, Villarreal have been consistent performers in La Liga and Europe. Losing Euorpa League play-off spot in a narrow 2-1 loss to Real Madrid on the final day of the Spanish league; Villarreal’s intentions were clear; they meant business. And the same could be expected of them tonight.
And when one takes a look at their road to final, it spits images of the same as they are yet to lose a single match in the competition. Playing in Group F (consisting of Macabi Tel Aviv, Sivasspor and Qarabag), the Spanish side had a little discomfort in topping the table with five wins and a draw.
Making the most of top forms of their attacking line in Samuel Chukuwueze and Gerard Moreno, the team continued their unbeaten run in the knockout stages as well with seeing off Austrian side RB Salzburg in the Round of 32 4-1 on aggregate. They backed it up with 4-0 win on aggregate against Dynamo Kiev in the next round. Quarter-final was a piece of cake too as they saw off Dinamo Zagreb 3-1.
And if one doubted their credential with no worthy outfit on their way so far, they cleared the air with a robust 2-1 win in the semis against Arsenal, including a solid defensive show in 0-0 draw at the Emirates when the Gunners could found just one shot on the target.