Date: 26th May 2021 at 1:45pm
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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a huge opportunity to win his first silverware as Manchester United manager on Wednesday evening as the Red Devils face Villarreal in the Europa League final. 

United threatened to be involved in the Premier League race early on this term but their season curtailed in the new year and neighbours Manchester City eventually ran away with the title.

Solskjaer is yet to win a trophy since taking charge of United in 2018, and his side have lost four cup semi-finals in the past two seasons, the most recent of which was a 2-0 defeat to City in this season’s EFL Cup.

United will fancy their chances however, against a Villarreal side who lost four of their last seven games in La Liga and finished seventh, missing out on qualification for next season’s Europa League in doing so.

Much of the talk in the build up to the game has been about which goalkeeper Solskjaer will opt for in Gdansk. David De Gea has been out of favour in the league but could return to the side on Wednesday.

Solskjaer eyes Europa glory.

Solskjaer made 10 changes ahead of United’s game against Wolves on Sunday, giving key players a rest ahead of the final.

Below is our predicted Manchester United XI for the big game in Gdansk.

Goalkeeper

It has been widely reported that veteran Spanish ‘keeper De Gea will start against Villarreal. The 30-year-old has been out of favour during the second half of the season and has started just twice in their past 12 league games. He has, however, played in both legs of the quarters and semi-finals, and can expect to be given the nod once again in what could prove to be his final game in a United shirt.

Defenders

United will be without imperious captain Harry Maguire for the final, leaving Solskjaer with a selection headache in central defence. Victor Lindelof is likely to be the certainty at the back, while Axel Tuanzebe could be selected ahead of Eric Bailly alongside the Swede. Luke Shaw, arguably the club’s player of the season so far, will expect to return at left-back having sat out the final day victory over Wolves at Molineux. At right-back, Aaron Wan-Bissaka will start to combat the threat that their Spanish counterparts pose.

Midfielders

Brazilian midfielder Fred was another player who sat out the win over Wolves and will therefore expect to regain his place at the heart of United’s midfield alongside Scotland international Scott McTominay. The 24-year-old was included in Steve Clarke’s squad for the European Championships this summer and has had arguably his best senior season to date. Former Chelsea pair Nemanja Matic and Juan Mata started against Wolves but will have to settle for places on the bench. Paul Pogba will likely be utilised out wide once again, with Marcus Rashford starting on the other side of talisman Bruno Fernandes in the number 10 role.

United may have to rely on top scorer Bruno Fernandes to secure the trophy in Gdansk.

Young forward Mason Greenwood, fresh from being included in Gareth Southgate’s provisional England squad for the Euros, will consider himself unfortunate not to make the starting 11 having played in every round of the competition so far. Dutch midfielder Donny van de Beek, who has struggled for game time all season, will once again have to settle for a place on the bench in what will be his first European final.

Forwards

Up front, Edinson Cavani is widely expected to be given the nod as the lone striker. The veteran forward signed a 12-month contract extension earlier this month and has been instrumental in United’s charge to the final, scoring four goals and assisting a further three over the two legs against Roma in the semis.

Standing in the way of United’s first silverware since winning the Europa League in 2017 is former Arsenal boss Unai Emery. The Spaniard dumped his former side out at the semi final stage and has incredible pedigree in the competition, winning the trophy three times on the trot with Sevilla between 2013 and 2016.

 
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