Friday Sep 29, 2023
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Villarreal looking for Europa League glory under 'specialist' Unai Emery

2021 May 26, 11:37, Kathmandu
Villarreal Manager Unai Emery has won Europa League three times consecutively (2014, 2015, 2016)

Villarreal plays Manchester United in the Europa League final that will be held in Gdansk on Wednesday night with the prize of swapping a place in the newly created Conference League for one in the Champions League up for grabs for the Spaniards.

Villarreal's 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid thanks to late goals from Karim Benzema and Luka Modric, condemned the side known as the 'Yellow Submarine' to finish seventh in La Liga on Saturday, but that will matter little if coach Unai Emery can steer his side to European glory.

Emery is a Europa League specialist, leading Sevilla to three consecutive wins in the tournament in 2014, 2015 and 2016, before taking Arsenal to the final in 2019 and a win on Wednesday would justify the club's decision to sign him at the end of last season after Javier Calleja had led them to fifth in the table.

Qualifying for the Champions League would mean an important economic boost for the Spanish club, with a boost of around 30 million euros for winning the Europa League, qualifying for the European Supercup, and playing in the group stage of the Champions League next season.

Emery should be able to count on defender Juan Foyth for the game after his recovery from a muscle injury, but forward Samuel Chukwueze is a major doubt as he still hasn't been able to train properly after suffering a muscle injury in the second leg of the semi-final away to Arsenal.

That game showed Villarreal's qualities as they were able to produce a calm defensive display, led by Spain international Pau Torres and the experienced Raul Albiol to keep Arsenal at bay after a 2-1 win in the first leg.

Gerard Moreno will be the main threat for Villarreal in attack, where he will be partnered by either Carlos Bacca, who has already triumphed in Europe with Emery, or Paco Alcacer, meanwhile, Manu Trigueros will be one of Villareal's midfield lynchpins alongside former Valencia midfielder, Dani Parejo.

"Villarreal has never reached a final before and it was very important to break that barrier against Arsenal. It is a reward for all of our work during the season," commented Trigueros in an interview with the El Mundo Deportivo newspaper.

The midfielder highlighted that the team showed "how to compete" away to Arsenal, but added that Wednesday was "the game of our lives and we want to enjoy it, as you never know when the chance might come again."

Manchester United finished second in the Premier League but were never really candidates to finish above their neighbors, Manchester City and they could be without club captain, Harry Maguire, who is struggling to recover from an ankle injury and whose absence leaves the defense looking less than watertight.

Meanwhile, the question will be whether Paul Pogba or Marcus Rashford starts on the left for the English side, who have Portuguese midfielder, Bruno Fernandes as their most creative player.

sports news europa league final Europe Manchester United Villarreal
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