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Starting XI: Villarreal vs. Manchester United

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The Reds are one step away from their first silverware since 2017

Villareal CF v Manchester United - UEFA Europa League Final Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Everything that you need to know ahead of the Europa League final:

(1) A final of firsts: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the first person to reach a major European cup final as both a player and manager for Manchester United. For Villarreal, on the other hand, this will be the club’s first-ever European final.

(2) On Sunday, Manchester United defeated Wolves 2-1 to end the Premier League season on a winning note. Juan Mata likely signed off his United career with the game-winning goal shortly before halftime. The win also means that the Reds have become just the fourth side in English top-flight history to go a full season unbeaten on the road.

(3) Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on his road warriors:

What an achievement by all the players! They’ve been excellent and I knew we put this record on the line by making all these changes, but we had to. One — because we believe in these players. And two — because the other players that have played so much this season needed an energy boost for Wednesday.

(4) Solskjaer rested most of his regular starters on Sunday, preferring to keep them fresh for the Europa League final in midweek. Depending on the health of Harry Maguire, Scott McTominay, and Fred, the entire Manchester United lineup at Molineux could change for the Villarreal match.

(5) Villarreal have arguably been the most impressive side in the Europa League this season. The Yellow Submarine rank third in goals scored (behind Arsenal and AS Roma) with 27 and are tied for the top defense with seven clean sheets.

(6) Center back Raul Albiol on facing Manchester United in the Europa League final:

The final is a great game. An exciting tie that we all want to play in, but we need to get ready for it the same way that we have done with all the previous games. We need to make sure it feels natural. Being calm is important. The physical and emotional part will play an important role. We need to be strong during the game. A lot of things happen in the games and we need to be ready for everything.

Because of their history and because of their squad, Manchester United are the favorites ahead of the final. They’re a giant in the football world. This is the first final we are going to play in. We know what our strengths are and the only way we can win is by being at our best.

(7) After defeating Arsenal at the semifinal stage, Villarreal looked to have a major injury crisis on their hands ahead of the final. Dynamic winger Samuel Chukwueze left the second leg on a stretcher with a severe muscle injury and was initially considered a major doubt to return this season. He’s returned to training much sooner than expected and should be fit for Wednesday night. Juan Foyth, on loan from Tottenham Hotspur, could also make a surprise return after missing the last six matches with a hamstring tear.

(8) This is Unai Emery’s competition. He has won the Europa League three times and would pass Giovanni Trapattoni as the winningest coach in competition history with a victory on Wednesday.

(9) Star man: Gerard Moreno leads Villarreal with 29 goals scored in all competitions. The 29-year-old Spaniard is usually joined up top by either Carlos Bacca or Paco Alcacer, the club’s record signing from Borussia Dortmund. The Yellow Submarine boast a potent attack — with just the big three of Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, and Barcelona scoring more goals in La Liga this season.

(10) In defense, all eyes are on Pau Torres. The 24-year-old center back is comfortable bringing the ball out from the back — particularly while being pressed — and uses his pace to good advantage both in defense and in the build-up. Not surprisingly, this modern defender has attracted lots of interest from the European elite — including Manchester United. It seems likely that someone will trigger his €50 million release clause this summer.

(11) Manchester United and Villarreal have previously met on four occasions. The result? Four 0-0 draws. One way or the other, a winner will be crowned on Wednesday night.