Villarreal vs Man United: Can Solskjaer finally land silverware?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is targeting his first trophy as Manchester United manager when his side take on Villarreal in the Europa League final.

When: Wednesday, May 26, 20:00 GMT

How to watch: BT Sport and BT Sport YouTube channel

Best bets

Draw and both teams to score after 90 minutes at 4/1 (bet365)

Both teams to score, 1+ corners each team in each half and 10+ booking points each team at 5/2 (Sky Bet)

Gerard Moreno to score in 90 minutes at 5/2 (bet365)

Ole aiming for first piece of silverware as a manager

Former Manchester United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over at the club in December 2018 replacing Jose Mourinho.

In 2019/20, he took United to three semi-finals - the EFL Cup, FA Cup and Europa League - only to lose all three. This year he has guided his team past AS Roma in the semi-final and now has a chance of silverware for the first time since taking over at Old Trafford. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Man United's form has been consistent and on Sunday, the Red Devils completed a full season without losing an away game in the Premier League. The 2-1 win against Wolves meant that this team became only the third to remain unbeaten away for a full season - after Arsenal in both 2001/02 and 2003/04.

This strong away form has helped United to a second-place finish in the Premier League - also their best final league position under the guidance of Solskjaer. Regarding other cups, Man United could only manage to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup before losing 3-1 to Leicester City and yet another defeat in a semi-final, this time in the EFL Cup, at the hands of Man City, who won 2-0.

Previous meetings:

Manchester United have played Villarreal CF a total of four times in history. Incredibly, all four match-ups have taken place in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League and have provided the exact same scoreline, 0-0. Let's hope Wednesday's meeting has at least a little bit more to get excited about!

Last five Europa League finals:

Sevilla 3-2 Inter Milan (August 21, 2020)

Last year's Europa League final was not played until August because of the global pandemic, but that could not keep tournament specialists Sevilla away from the trophy.

The win helped Sevilla to their sixth UEFA Cup or Europa League final triumph in six attempts.

Romelu Lukaku got Inter off to a flyer, scoring a penalty after only five minutes in Cologne - meaning he had scored in 11 successive Europa League games.

Luuk de Jong capped off a memorable couple of weeks, scoring the winner to defeat Man United 2-1 in the semi-final, scoring twice in the final and being named the man of the match. The first of his brace came after 12 minutes, converting a cross from winger-turned-full back Jesus Navas.

The Dutchman was also the next player to score, helping Sevilla to take the lead for the first time in the match and once again scoring a header, this time from Ever Banega's cross.

The goal action in the first half was not over because Uruguayan defender Diego Godin scored the third header of the game, nodding past Bono in the Sevilla goal.

With extra time looking likely, Sevilla defender Diego Carlos attempted an acrobatic overhead kick that was going wide until the ball took a deflection off first-half goal scorer Lukaku, to make it 3-2 to Sevilla.

This win meant Sevilla had gone 21 games unbeaten in all competitions and had a record sixth competition trophy to go with the run.

Chelsea 4-1 Arsenal (May 29, 2019)

An all-English renewal of the 2019 final in Azerbaijan, where Chelsea deservedly won their first Europa League since 2013.

The five goals all took place in the second half of the match and Olivier Giroud was the first name on the scoresheet, powering a near-post header past former Chelsea legend Petr Cech, who was playing his last ever game.

Pedro then scored for Chelsea too, making it 2-0 and an Ainsley Maitland-Niles foul on Olivier Giroud enabled Eden Hazard to score his 20th goal of the campaign from the penalty spot.

Alex Iwobi was straight into the action for Arsenal, being introduced and shortly after scoring to give Arsenal a glimmer of hope.

Hazard, though, grabbed his second of the game and in his last ever game for Chelsea, helped them lift the Europa League.

Marseille 0-3 Atletico Madrid (May 16, 2018)

Antione Griezmann stole the show, scoring twice for Atletico as they lifted the trophy for the third time in eight years. Atletico, who had also won the tournament in 2010 and 2012, ran out comfortable winners in Lyon against French outfit Marseille.

One goal before half-time and one after the interval from Griezmann put Marseille in a difficult position and they also saw playmaker Dimitri Payet leave the field injured after half an hour.

A late goal from experienced captain Gabi, wrapped the game up for an impressive Atletico side. The clean sheet also meant that Jan Oblak had kept more than any other goalkeeper in Europe that season, with seven.

Ajax 0-2 Man United (May 24, 2017)

2021 finalists Manchester United last won the Europa League in 2017, beating a young Ajax side in Sweden.

Jose Mourinho's men were good value for their win and secured their second trophy of the season, after defeating Southampton in the EFL Cup final earlier on in the campaign.

The win also meant that United would qualify for the next season's Champions League via victory in this match, after a disappointing sixth-placed finish in the Premier League.

Goals came from Paul Pogba in the 18th minute and fellow midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the 48th minute.

Liverpool 1-3 Sevilla (May 18, 2016)

Sevilla came from behind to beat Liverpool with three goals in the second half, completing a third successive Europa League success.

Liverpool looked to have a clear penalty turned down after Daniel Carrico appeared to handle the ball inside the box.

The game started well for the English club as Daniel Sturridge scored from outside the box to put them 1-0 up at half-time.

Spanish team Sevilla came flying out of the blocks in the second half and equalised just 17 seconds into the half through French poacher Kevin Gameiro.

Man-of-the-match Coke netted twice for Sevilla after having failed to score in his previous 24 outings, and there was no way back for Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool team.

It was Liverpool second final defeat of the season, after losing in the Capital One Cup final against Manchester City a few months earler.

Road to the final

Villarreal celebrating their semi-final victory
Villarreal celebrating their semi-final victory

Villarreal

Qualified: 5th in Liga

Group I: Winners

Round of 32: 4-1 Salzburg

Round of 16: 4-0 Dynamo Kyiv

Quarter-finals: 3-1 Dinamo Zagreb

Semi-finals: 2-1 Arsenal

Edinson Cavani has played a big part in Man United's journey to the final
Edinson Cavani has played a big part in Man United's journey to the final

Manchester United

Qualified: 3rd in Champions League Group Stage

Round of 32: 4-0 Real Sociedad

Round of 16: 2-1 AC Milan

Quarter-finals: 4-0 Granada

Semi-finals: 8-5 Roma

Team news

The biggest question mark for Ole's team selection comes in goal. Dean Henderson has been first-choice in the league for the second half of the season, while David de Gea has been the usual cup goalkeeper. The manager has kept his cards close to his chest and not disclosed his thinking ahead of the game.

Harry Maguire appears set to miss the showpiece after failing to recover from ankle ligament damage. The centre-back sat out Uited's open training session on Tuesday.

United may also be without Anthony Martial who has been missing since the 2-0 victory against Manchester City in March. Aside from that most of his starting XI were able to be rested against Wolves in their final Premier League game of the season.

Villarreal also have a dilemma in the goalkeeping department. Geronimo Rulli has played in all but one of Villarreal's unbeaten Europa League run, but is lacking match practice. Unai Emery could opt to go with regular No. 1 Sergio Asenjo between the posts instead.

Furthermore, The Yellow Submarine's attacking players have been fantastic for their team recently, leaving Emery with another headache. Gerard Moreno looks likely to start and his partner could be Paco Alcacer, who has scored six goals in the Europa League this season or Carlos Bacca, who scored a hat-trick against Sevilla two matches ago.

Scoreline prediction: Villarreal 2-2 Man United

Spanish and English clubs have an excellent record in the Europa League and it might be difficult to split United and Villarreal over the 90 minutes.

Villarreal remain unbeaten in Europe this season and have Europa League specialist Unai Emery leading them - he has won three finals.

The Yellow Submarine completed an impressive victory over Arsenal in the semi-final, although they signed off their league campaign with a 2-1 loss against Real Madrid.

Unai Emery led Villarreal to a 2-1 win over former club Arsenal
Unai Emery led Villarreal to a 2-1 win over former club Arsenal

Man United go into the game as favourites. Goals aren't a problem but it their defence remains a concern. Since leader Harry Maguire has been injured, United have conceded nine goals in four games.

There is likely to be much between the two sides after 90 minutes, although Man United are capable of gaining the victory in extra time and a 3-2 final scoreline seems plausible.

The draw after 90 minutes and both teams to score is great value at 4/1 with bet365.

Goalscorer predictions

Manchester United are renowned for winning penalties and their main man Bruno Fernandes may well be the person to look to for a goal.

The Portuguese playmaker is 17/10 to score in 90 minutes with Paddy Power and 23/5 with Unibet to score the opening goal.

Bruno Fernandes celebrating for Manchester United
Bruno Fernandes celebrating for Manchester United

Gerard Moreno has provided an impressive 41 goal contributions in 45 matches this season.

The Spain international is 7/1 to net first and 5/2 to score anytime with bet365.