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Manchester United to face Villarreal in Europa League Final

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By Euronews
Manchester United's manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gestures during a training session in Gdansk, Poland, Tuesday May 25, 2021 ahead of the Europa League final soccer match.
Manchester United's manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gestures during a training session in Gdansk, Poland, Tuesday May 25, 2021 ahead of the Europa League final soccer match.   -   Copyright  AP Photo
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Manchester United look set to be without their captain Harry Maguire on Wednesday evening as they take on the Spanish side Villarreal in the Europa League final.

The 28-year-old was unable to participate in the final training session ahead of tonight's showpiece in Gdansk, Poland.

Maguire, who has also captained his country, has missed the last four games of the Premier League season.

Who will stand in for Maguire?

It is unclear who will replace Maguire, but Axel Tuanzebe and Eric Bailly have been floated as potential stand-ins.

Speaking to The Associated Press on Tuesday ahead of Manchester United's final training session, defender Luke Shaw said he was "not too sure" whether Maguire would make it onto the playing field come Wednesday.

"We're hoping he can be available, but the main focus now is on the players that are out there fit to. be ready for the game," Shaw said.

So far, all four matches between Manchester United and Villarreal have finished 0-0.

Fernandes' hope

While Manchester United are set to be without key player Maguire, another, in the shape of Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes is raring to go.

Fernandes, who has scored 40 goals in all competitions this season, said the club are hungry for trophies.

The Red Devils are aiming to win their first trophy since 2017 when they defeated Ajax 2-0 to clinch the Europa League with Jose Mourinho in charge.

United finished second in the Premier League this season for the first time since 2013.

Now they face Unai Emery's Villarreal, who are playing their first final in the history of the club.

Emery has already won the Europa League three times (2014, 2015, 2016) and this will be his fifth final.

'Manchester United are the favourites'

"I think we have our chances' said Emery ahead of the final. "We are candidates to win the trophy, but we are playing against the favourites which are Manchester United.

"They have good players, history and experience in Europe, but, on our side, we have very strong recent history to be able to deserve this moment and we deserve it because we had the capacity to reach the final."

Emery joined Villarreal in July 2020 after losing his job at Arsenal the previous November.

A win for Villarreal would delight travelling Spanish fans - each club received 2,000 tickets - at the game in Poland.

It is being played with a reduced attendance of 9,500, or 25 per cent of stadium capacity, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

A Villarreal victory would also stop an English sweep of European soccer’s top competitions, with Chelsea playing Manchester City in the Champions League final in Porto on Saturday.

Villarreal is the only finalist in either competition which wasn’t part of the failed attempt to create a breakaway European Super League this season.