Villarreal vs Manchester United | Wednesday 26th May 2021, 20:00 | BT Sport
The first European final of the week kicks off in Poland as The Yellow Submarine and The Red Devils go head-to-head in a winner takes all tie.
Both of these sides have exceptionally strong motivations for lifting the trophy, first and foremost, the opportunity to claim a piece of Silverware. Villarreal have never won a major trophy and this is the biggest game in their history.
On the flip side, it’s a chance for Ole to finally lift his first trophy as manager of Manchester United. It will represent progress after notoriously failing in previous tournaments at the semi-final stage.
The data suggests it will be a tight game and I think it will too, however I do think there will be goals in this one.
Four of the last five UEL finals have seen three or more goals and with the quality these two teams possess up top, it’s difficult to see either side keeping a clean sheet in my view.
It’s an interesting one and I think it’ll be closer than the markets suggest!
- This is Unai Emery’s competition, won it three times in a row with Sevilla between 2013 – 2016.
- Gerard Moreno could cause United huge problems cutting in, particularly if, as expected, Harry Maguire is missing – Moreno has 37 goal involvements in 36 appearances this season and is the star man.
- Villarreal have won just once against the top six in Spain this season, and only in one of those did they score two goals or more – against Sevilla recently who were down to 10 men early on.
- Villarreal have not lost any of their 14 games in the UEL this season and have scored in 13 of those.
- Villarreal have won 87% of their UEL games this season.
- Villarreal have been carded in 50 of their 57 games this season.
- Samuel Chukwueze looks set to miss out with a hamstring injury for Villarreal in a big blow for the Spanish side, while Tottenham's Juan Foyth is also a massive doubt.
- Pau Torres is someone Manchester United have been heavily linked to in the build up to the summer and he will start at centre-back for Unai Emery's side.
- Carlos Bacca and Paco Alcacer are in competition to start up front alongside star man Gerard Moreno.
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is going for his first trophy as boss of the Red Devils.
- United have outperformed their goals conceded XG. Conceded just three goals prior to their trip to Roma and should’ve probably conceded more.
- In their matches against Real Sociedad, who’re rated quite similarly to Villarreal, Sociedad had plenty of chances to score.
- In the last round, United overcame Roma, damage was done in the first leg as United won 6-2, Roma lost three players to injury in the first half which massively hampered them.
- United have failed to win by more than a goal in 6/8 games without Maguire since he signed with one of those two big wins coming away at Derby County from the Championship.
- Since the injury to Maguire, United have lost two, drawn one and won one.
- Edinson Cavani has scored five goals in just three UEL appearances and 15 goals in 16 appearances overall this season.
- United’s opponents have seen two or more cards in all of their last five UEL games.
- United have seen 11 yellows across their last four UEL games.
- United have been carded in 55 of their 60 games this season in total.
- Looking likely that club captain Maguire is out.
- Phil Jones and Anthony Martial are unavailable.
- David de Gea is expected to start in goal over Dean Henderson.
Referee: Clément Turpin
- Averaging just shy of four cards per game in Europe this season and has shown a red card in his last three games overall.
- Awarding an average of 24.00 fouls per game in Europe this season.
My first pick is for Both Teams To Score. If, as expected, club captain Harry Maguire is out of this one, then it gives the Yellow Submarine a huge boost.
Gerard Moreno has been in blistering form all season, being involved in 37 goals in 36 appearances this season. He will find a lot of joy coming in from the left and exploiting a Maguire shaped back line.
I also think that United have had an element of fortune in certain matches. Real Sociedad should arguably have scored and Roma showed that the United defence can be tested.
With the attacking weapons that Villarreal possess, i’m expecting them to get on the scoresheet. I do think United have far superior quality and should get the job done in a very tight game, but I really like the price of this bet, a bet that has landed in four of the last five UEL finals.
My second pick is for there to be 5+ cards in the game. That last seven finals have seen 5, 2, 5, 6, 8, 7 & 5 yellow cards. This includes United's UEL final appearance against Ajax in 2017 when there were 60 booking points in total.
The referee is Clement Turpin from France and he has awarded at least one red card in his last three matches, I'm not certain we’ll see a sending off here, but both sides are more than capable of picking up cards and there is an awful lot on the line for these two. Players like Shaw, Pedraza, Fred and Raúl Albiol are all possible player card picks.
I think the line should be at exactly five and as such, I'm more than happy to take over 4.5 at 1.8.