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Villarreal are the side against whom Manchester United have played the most fixtures against without scoring in their history. Yes, you’ve read that correctly and yes I’ve verified it.
And it seems odd that you’d ever consider United going four games without scoring against any side, but the funny thing about this is – the other four meetings were all scoreless draws.
Time to throw on the coffee and the midnight oil, because previous form suggests we’ll be up all night with this one.
I often find that the Europa League final is a bit like the Super Bowl. Everyone’s absolutely knackered and carrying all sorts of injuries – only that the adrenaline helps people get through the 90 minutes somewhat comfortably.
Nobody in Europe’s top five leagues have played in more games than Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes – United’s two key men in forward areas.
Yes, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has rested his players to a certain degree in the buildup, but given how many games they’ve already gone through, it’ll hardly be the winning of the tie.
It just feels to me like this game could be destined for extras – and if you’re one of the few weirdos who needs more Europa League in your life, then this season is your deliverance point. Here’s three of the best ahead of the grand finale.
Wednesday 20:00 – Man United v Villarreal
BT Sport 1
The auld feeling-the-opposition-out cliché will be dished out more times than a greasy chip butty in Sheffield.
I can actually feel Graeme Souness in the back of my head already setting the table for the opening half an hour – citing a tactical adjustment period in lieu of anything actually happening and I’ve got PTSD before it’s even happened.
But he’ll be right in this instance. Given the event itself will feel less like a European final than my aunt Mary’s 80th in 2017, it’s hard to blame them.
Not to be nailing my colours to another nil-all draw mast, but I will say that I’d gladly take there being a single goal between these sides as a fallback for the price I’m getting.
Man United claimed more points than any other side from a losing position in the Premier League last season, but they rarely piled on when they did go ahead and I could easily see that happening here given Edinson Cavani is the one outlier from their psyche. Either way, cagey.
If it gets beyond the ninety, both sides will be so tired that it’ll resemble a kickabout in your local park on a Sunday morning after a late-night PPV watchalong party with a now-empty keg.
And if it comes to a shootout, United have by far an away the best marksmen and strikers of a football in this matchup.
Not to mention they’ve been relatively fortune when it comes to shootouts in Europe, as well as having plenty of practice with the 65 penalties they were awarded in the Premier League this season.
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