Spanish UEFA Europa League stalwarts Villarreal, in their first major European final, take on 2017 champions Manchester United in the Polish seaport of Gdańsk.
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The 2020/21 UEFA Europa League final in the Polish seaport of Gdańsk brings together Spanish competition stalwarts Villarreal, who have never previously lifted a major European trophy, and 2016/17 winners Manchester United, who are competing in their 14th UEFA final.
• The Spanish side are led by head coach Unai Emery, who steered Sevilla to a hat-trick of UEFA Europa League successes from 2013/14 to 2015/16 as well as taking Arsenal to the 2018/19 final, while his counterpart Ole Gunnar Solskjær is looking to win his first continental trophy as a manager – and his first silverware in two and a half years as the United boss.
• Villarreal cruised to first place in UEFA Europa League Group I ahead of Maccabi Tel-Aviv, Sivasspor and Qarabağ to reach the round of 32 for the eighth time before comfortably disposing of UEFA Champions League group stage participants Salzburg (2-0 a, 2-1 h) and Dynamo Kyiv (2-0 a, 2-0 h). They also won both quarter-final matches against Dinamo Zagreb (1-0 a, 2-1 h) and then knocked out United's Premier League rivals – and Emery's former employers – Arsenal in the semi-final (2-1 h, 0-0 a). Villarreal are undefeated in Europe in 2020/21 with 11 wins and two draws.
• Solskjær's team competed in the UEFA Champions League during the autumn, defeats in their final two Group H fixtures leaving them in third place on nine points behind Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig. They have subsequently come through four UEFA Europa League ties, eliminating two Spanish clubs, Real Sociedad in the round of 32 (4-0 a, 0-0 h) and Granada in the quarter-finals (2-0 a, 2-0 h), as well as two from Italy – AC Milan in the round of 16 (1-1 h, 1-0 a) and Roma in the semi-finals (6-2 h, 2-3 a), the second-leg defeat in Rome ending their unbeaten run in this season's competition.
• Villarreal and Manchester United have met in four previous European matches – on each occasion in the UEFA Champions League group stage – and every one ended in a goalless draw.
• The first encounter in September 2005, which marked Villarreal's debut in the UEFA Champions League proper, was notable for the sending-off of visiting United striker Wayne Rooney. Another stalemate at Old Trafford two months later turned out to be costly for Sir Alex Ferguson's side as they would ultimately finish bottom of the group, ending a run of nine successive qualifications for the knockout phase, whereas Manuel Pellegrini's debutants finished top – despite scoring just three goals – and went on to reach the semi-finals, where they were beaten by Arsenal.
• Ferguson and Pellegrini were both still in charge as the clubs played out two further 0-0 draws three years later, the first at Old Trafford, where United began the defence of the trophy, the second at El Madrigal, where the outcome ensured both teams qualified for the next stage. Villarreal went on to reach the quarter-finals, losing again to Arsenal, while United made it all the way to another final only to lose 2-0 to another Spanish side, Barcelona, in Rome.
• Those two campaigns remain Villarreal's sole ventures into the UEFA Champions League knockout phase. They made it third time lucky against Arsenal in this season's UEFA Europa League semi-final, which made their all-time record against Premier League opposition in five UEFA knockout ties W2 L3, the previous success having come in the first of them, against Everton in the 2005/06 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round (2-1 a, 2-1 h). The other defeat was against Liverpool in the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League semi-final (1-0 h, 0-3 a).
• Villarreal's overall record against English clubs is W5 D7 L5. This is their first encounter at a neutral venue.
• United have won only 16 of their 61 UEFA matches against Spanish opposition (D23 L22), though they are unbeaten in all four this spring (W3 D1), scoring eight goals and conceding none. However, their last three European campaigns have all been terminated by Liga opposition – by Sevilla in both the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League round of 16 (0-0 a, 1-2 h) and last season's one-off UEFA Europa League semi-final in Cologne (1-2), and by Barcelona in the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League quarter-final (0-1 h, 0-3 a).
• United's record in UEFA knockout ties against Spanish clubs is W9 L12. This includes a record in finals of W1 L3, with defeats in each of the last three – against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League deciders of 2009 and 2011 (1-3 at Wembley) and by Real Madrid in the 2017 UEFA Super Cup (1-2 in Skopje). Their only victory came in the 1991 European Cup Winners' Cup final against Barcelona in Rotterdam (2-1).
• Villarreal finished fifth in the 2019/20 Spanish Liga to return to Europe after a season's absence and participate in the UEFA Europa League group stage for a record-equalling eighth time.
• The Spanish club have never finished outside the top two in their eight group campaigns, going through as section winners four times, including this season as Emery's side won Group I at a canter, scoring 12 goals in winning their first three matches before sealing first place with a 1-0 win at Sivasspor on Matchday 5.
• The subsequent knockout phase wins against Salzburg, Dynamo Kyiv, Dinamo Zagreb and Arsenal have taken Villarreal through to the club's first major European final – though they were twice winners of the UEFA Intertoto Cup, and once runners-up, in the early 2000s.
• Villarreal are unbeaten in their last 12 UEFA Europa League matches outside Spain (W7 D5), keeping clean sheets in all of the last five. Their last defeats in this competition were in the 2018/19 quarter-final against local rivals Valencia (1-3 h, 0-2 a); they are now undefeated by non-Spanish opposition in 23 European matches (W16 D7) including all 13 this season.
• This is Villarreal's first UEFA encounter in Poland.
• United finished third in the Premier League last season, when they also lost three semi-finals – in the English League Cup, the FA Cup and the UEFA Europa League. Their league position enabled them to compete in the UEFA Champions League group stage for the 23rd time.
• Solskjær's side got off to a flier in Group H, beating Paris 2-1 away and Leipzig 5-0 at home, but lost three of their last four fixtures – 1-2 at İstanbul Başakşehir, 1-3 at home to Paris and 2-3 away to Leipzig – to drop down into third place.
• UEFA Europa League knockout phase wins against Real Sociedad, Milan, Granada and Roma have taken the Manchester club into the final of the competition for the second time. They were triumphant four years ago, when José Mourinho's side defeated Ajax 2-0 in Stockholm, Paul Pogba scoring the first goal with other current United players Sergio Romero, Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford all starting the game and Anthony Martial coming on as a substitute.
• United have lost just three of their last 17 matches outside Manchester in the UEFA Europa League, winning ten, and have scored at least once in every one of their knockout phase encounters in the competition outside England, a sequence that has now stretched to 16 matches.
• This is United's first visit to Poland since the qualifying round of their triumphant 1998/99 UEFA Champions League campaign, when they drew 0-0 away to ŁKS Łódź after a first-leg 2-0 home win. Their overall record in the country is W1 D2 L1, the sole victory coming in the semi-final of the 1990/91 European Cup Winners' Cup, when they beat ten-man Legia Warszawa 3-1 in the Polish capital prior to a 1-1 draw in Manchester. This is their first UEFA encounter in Gdańsk.
Previous UEFA finals
Villarreal (W2 L1)
2002 UEFA Intertoto Cup 1-2 agg v Málaga
2003 UEFA Intertoto Cup 2-1 agg v Heerenveen
2004 UEFA Intertoto Cup 2-2 agg v Atlético de Madrid (aet; 3-1 penalties)
Manchester United (W7 L6)
1967/68 European Cup 4-1 v Benfica (aet)
1968 European/South American Cup 1-2 agg v Estudiantes
1990/91 European Cup Winners' Cup 2-1 v Barcelona
1991 UEFA Super Cup 1-0 v Crvena zvezda
1998/99 UEFA Champions League 2-1 v Bayern München
1999 UEFA Super Cup 0-1 v Lazio
1999 European/South American Cup 1-0 v Palmeiras
2007/08 UEFA Champions League 1-1 v Chelsea (aet; 6-5 penalties)
2008 UEFA Super Cup 1-2 v Zenit
2008/09 UEFA Champions League 0-2 v Barcelona
2010/11 UEFA Champions League 1-3 v Barcelona
2016/17 UEFA Europa League 2-0 v Ajax
2017 UEFA Super Cup 1-2 v Real Madrid
UEFA Europa League final focus
• This is the 12th UEFA Europa League final. The previous 11 have yielded 34 goals at an average of 3.09 per game. The biggest winning margin is three goals – 4-1 by Chelsea against Arsenal in 2018/19 and 3-0 achieved twice by Atlético, against Athletic Club (2012) and Marseille (2018). The highest number of goals scored in the fixture is five – Sevilla's 3-2 victory over Dnipro in 2015, that 4-1 win for Chelsea in 2019, and another 3-2 win for Sevilla last season against Internazionale.
• Sevilla have won all four of their UEFA Europa League finals, last season's victory enabling them to move ahead of Atlético, who also boast a perfect record in finals of three out of three.
• There have been eight previous UEFA Europa League finalists from Spain, including runners-up Athletic in 2012, and six from England, with Chelsea winning twice (2013, 2019) and Manchester United once (2017), while Fulham (2010), Liverpool (2016) and Arsenal (2019) have all lost on their sole appearance.
• Villarreal are the 16th different club to have reached the UEFA Europa League final – and would be just the sixth to win the competition. Only three countries – Spain (seven wins), England (three) and Portugal (one) – have provided previous winners.
• This is the third UEFA Europa League final between clubs from Spain and England, the previous two having both been won by the Spanish club – Atlético v Fulham in 2010 (2-1 aet) and Sevilla v Liverpool in 2016 (3-1).
• United are bidding to become the fourth multiple winners of the UEFA Europa League and the fifth team to win it after crossing over in mid-season from the UEFA Champions League after the group stage, following Atlético (2009/10, 2017/18), Chelsea (2012/13) and Sevilla (2015/16).
• In 2018/19 Chelsea became the first UEFA Europa League winners to go through the season undefeated (W12 D3). Villarreal will emulate that feat with victory in Gdańsk.
• There has never been a sending-off in a UEFA Europa League final.
• The only own goal in the fixture was scored by Inter's Romelu Lukaku in last season's defeat by Sevilla.
• Three penalties have been awarded in the UEFA Europa League final, all successfully converted – by Óscar Cardozo for Benfica against Chelsea in 2013, Eden Hazard for Chelsea against Arsenal in 2019, and Lukaku for Inter against Sevilla in 2020.
• The only previous UEFA Europa League final decided by a penalty shoot-out was in 2014, when Sevilla defeated Benfica 4-2 on spot kicks after a 0-0 draw in Turin. The only other final to have gone into extra time was the inaugural fixture in 2010, when Atlético overcame Fulham in Hamburg.
• Seven players have scored twice in the UEFA Europa League final – Diego Forlán (Atlético 2010), Radamel Falcao (Atlético 2012), Carlos Bacca (Sevilla 2015), Coke (Sevilla 2016), Antoine Griezmann (Atlético 2018), Hazard (Chelsea 2019) and Luuk de Jong (Sevilla 2020); there has yet to be a hat-trick.
• Falcao is the only player to have scored in two UEFA Europa League finals, having previously struck Porto's winner in 2011. He is also the only two-time winner of the Man of the Match award (2011, 2012).
• The youngest player to have competed on the winning side in a UEFA Europa League final is Manchester United's Rashford (2017) at 19 years 205 days; the oldest is Chelsea's Frank Lampard (2013) at 34 years 329 days.
• Maurizio Sarri became the UEFA Europa League's oldest winning coach, at 60 years 139 days, when he led Chelsea to victory in 2019. The youngest was André Villas-Boas, aged 33 years 213 days when he oversaw Porto's triumph in 2011.
• Poland is the second nation to host the UEFA Europa League final twice, the 2015 showpiece having been staged in Warsaw. Germany was the first to do so (Hamburg 2010, Cologne 2020).
Links and trivia
• Emery has overseen 92 matches in the UEFA Europa League proper – 32 more than any other coach. This is his fifth final; only two other coaches have served in more than one – Jorge Jesus (twice with Benfica) and Diego Simeone (twice with Atlético).
• Emery replaced long-serving Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger in May 2018 and oversaw 78 matches for the Gunners until his dismissal in November 2019. He was unbeaten in three Premier League games against Manchester United, drawing twice away (2-2 and 1-1) and winning once at home (2-0). However, his Arsenal side were defeated 3-1 at home by Solskjær's United in the fourth round of the 2018/19 FA Cup.
• The two coaches also locked horns in the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League round of 32 as Emery's Sevilla overcame Solskjær's Molde 3-1 on aggregate (3-0 h, 0-1 a) en route to completing their title hat-trick.
• In their five head-to-head contests overall Emery and Solskjær have each won two, drawn one and lost two.
• United defender Eric Bailly joined from Villarreal in 2016 after 18 months with the Spanish club. He was a UEFA Europa League winner in 2017 though missed the final through suspension.
• United have two other players with Spanish Liga experience – David de Gea (Atlético 2008–11) and Juan Mata (Real Madrid Castilla 2006/07, Valencia 2007–11). De Gea won the inaugural UEFA Europa League with Atlético in 2010 and Mata was a 2013 winner with Chelsea.
• Juan Foyth is currently on loan to Villarreal from Tottenham Hotspur, while Étienne Capoue is another former Spurs player who joined the Spanish club in January after five and a half seasons in England with Watford.
• Villarreal midfielder Francis Coquelin (Arsenal 2008–18), Alberto Moreno (Liverpool 2014–19), and Ramiro Funes Mori (Everton 2015–18) have all had spells in the Premier League, while Dani Parejo spent 2008/09 on loan at Queens Park Rangers in the English Championship.
• Bacca scored twice for Sevilla when they defeated Dnipro 3-2 in the 2015 UEFA Europa League final in Warsaw. He had also won the 2014 final with Sevilla against Benfica, when Moreno was his team-mate.
• Villarreal have played more matches in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final, than any other club. This is their 88th encounter – 14 more than second-placed Salzburg.
• The 27 goals scored by Villarreal this season have lifted their all-time total in the competition to a record 151, 22 more than Liga rivals Sevilla, with 100 conceded. They also hold the record for most UEFA Europa League wins (49), seven more than Sevilla.
• Villarreal conceded twice late on to lose 2-1 at Real Madrid in their final Liga encounter of the season on Saturday, a result that left them seventh in the final table in a qualifying place for next season's inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League.
• United ended the 2020/21 Premier League season in second place on 74 points – 12 behind champions Manchester City but with qualification for next season's UEFA Champions League already secured. They were 2-1 winners at Wolverhampton Wanderers in their final fixture on Sunday, thereby completing the season with an unbeaten away record (W12 D7). Only Arsenal, in 2001/02 and 2003/04, had ever previously gone through a Premier League season without an away defeat.
• Villarreal's record in two UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W2 L0:
4-3 v Torino, 2002 UEFA Intertoto Cup third round
3-1 v Atlético de Madrid, 2004 UEFA Intertoto Cup final
• Manchester United's record in three UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W1 L2:
4-5 v Videoton, 1984/85 UEFA Cup quarter-final
3-4 v Torpedo Moskva, 1992/93 UEFA Cup first round
6-5 v Chelsea, 2007/08 UEFA Champions League final