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VUSA Pod #70: Looking Ahead to the Europa League Final

Villarreal v Manchester United
Last match against Manchester United, November 2008
Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

It’s getting close. Yes, there is a match against Real Madrid this weekend, and we could get into sixth or even fifth if we can get a result and other matches break our way, but we’re not expecting that, especially since we have other things on our mind—the Europa League Final!

Allen, Robin and Zach begin with a review of recent matches and the league, but after the break we discuss the big match. Who will play where? In what formation? Coach Unai Emery has a number of possibilities to choose from. If injured players like Juan Foyth and Samu Chukwueze were going to be able to play in Gdansk, it would be a lot easier to name a starting XI and how they would line up, but we expect Samu is surely out and Foyth is unlikely to feature in the starting lineup, although it’s possible he could make the bench.

Who starts up front—is it Paco Alcacer, or Carlos Bacca? Lots of discussion in our comment sections about this. What about right back? And is Rulli the best choice in goal? All of us admit we’ve frequently been wrong about Unai Emery’s plans, but, nonetheless, how is Emery going to set up his team for this match?

Normally we finish with a prediction; we really didn’t this time. Yes, on balance Manchester United are a favorite—maybe a 60:40 favorite—but it’s one match, and anything can happen.

If you look at the lineups, the difference in quality of personnel across the board is not that great, though many of the Red Devils are better known to the average fan than their Villarreal counterparts. It really comes down to how those players are best used, and how they play on the day.

We’re all agreed that it’s likely both teams will score, which is quite something considering these two teams have met four times, and all four times have been scoreless draws! And we’re also agreed it would be nice not to go to penalties. Beyond that, we really can’t say much except: put out your Villarreal flags, stick some bubbly in the fridge just because, put on your shirt and wave your scarf in front of the TV, and cheer the Yellow Submarine on...hopefully to victory.