Unai’s 4th or Ole’s 1st? The Europa League Final
The time has finally come to witness the penultimate game of the Europa League season as the two-finalist head down to Poland for the all-important final. The game stands down as a glimpse of hope for Unai Emery, who was unable to secure any European tournament position for next season, finishing 7th in LaLiga. Whereas, on the other hand, Ole has his perfect opportunity to showcase all the progress he made with the once left in disaster Manchester United team since he took the job. If we speak theoretically, the Red Devils are the clear favorites with their flying form, but Unai Emery is a specialist when it comes to winning the Europa League, having winning it three times already. So, let’s head down to see all the upper hands and drawbacks for this high voltage encounter.
Manchester United faced a series of low tides after the club’s and one of football’s greatest managers, Sir Alex Ferguson left-back in 2013, since then the last major trophy won by the club was back in 2017 under Jose Mourinho, who was sacked a year after. Ever since then, Ole has been the sun to their rebuilding program and has delivered steep progression over the years. The current season reflects their story of 2017, the most successful season since Sir Alex’s departure, but the team looks in a way better and promising shape, filled with young raw talents.
The headache for the Red Devils, however, is the unavailability of their captain, Harry Maguire. The British defender has played the greatest number of minutes for the club since his signing but is set to miss what will be the club’s biggest game since then. The lack of fortune has forced Ole to impose a change in tactics, experimenting and rotating his players to find a proper balance. Their stable position and the confirmation of next season’s UCL spot allowed them to do as much as possible and try as many players as possible before the big final. Ole played Baily and Tuanzebe in their most recent clash against Wolves, were as Lindelof and Tuanzebe in the game before. Victor Lindelof being the senior campaigner is most likely to be in the starting eleven, however, his partner is still undecided since both the options were spectacular at their positions in the recent game. Nevertheless, certainly, the formation will be 1-3-2-4-1, since Ole is not a man to change their natural game before a big match.
Cavani is the wiser option to start based on his recent form and experience of playing in big matches, but it will be a big decision on whom Ole picks for the mid-field. Based on the recent game against Liverpool in the Premier League, Rashford- Fernandes- Pogba is the more likely trio, backed up with Fred and McTominay in the defensive mid-field and Luke Shaw and Wan-Bissaka as full-backs. Even though the game was lost by 4-2 at Old Trafford, Ole and Co. will most certainly give this another shot.
With Maguire out of the equation, Fernandes will be given the captain’s armband and will also be their most crucial player on the pitch. Scoring 22 goals followed by 8 assists in this season, the Portuguese has the opportunity to win his first major trophy with the club. On the other hand, Rashford and Cavani will also be set to give the opponent defenders a tough time as both these forwards are in sublime form.
The time closes as the club is now set to finally give their fans a taste of trophy after a long-long await.
The Yellow Submarine, Villareal, is not in the merriest seats themselves. Beating Arsenal, Unai Emery’s former club, was more of personal revenge for the manager. Even though Unai is considered a living legend of the tournament, winning it three times already, he now faces his toughest Europa final, facing a red-hot team while having an underperforming squad. Villareal finishes 7th in LaLiga, meaning they cannot compete in any European tournament next season unless they win the Europa League, which guarantees their spot in the next season’s UCL. While all the odds statistically go against them, one very specific odd goes their way. No Spanish club has lost a European final against a non-Spanish team in the last eight years. Even though it has nothing to do with their performance on the pitch, Unai won’t certainly miss any stat to cheer up his squad. However, the club isn’t in the worst of forms based on their last few performances. Their only disappointing defeat came against Real Madrid, while they conceded a goal in the 87th minute and stoppage time, resulting in a 1-2 home defeat. Their 4-0 win against Sevilla will surely lift their spirits. With no major injury update, Unai can play his best lineup and is speculated to play in 2-4-4-1 formation with Bacca and Moreno in the front.
This is set to be a more personal challenge for Unai as he seeks his 4th title, while once again proving his worth after a Premier League failure. The mastermind with all his experience will most certainly give Ole a hard run for the money.
Feels bad for Manchester United… Unai has his 4th!!
So disappointed on Ole
Villareal won the game with their defense
Bad game for the Uniteds