Betfair Ambassador Dimitar Berbatov has played in European finals so there’s nobody better to ask for his views on Villarreal v Manchester United. Find out if our man thinks his Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is about to land his first trophy at Red Devils manager.
Dimitar says: “Villarreal are a good Spanish team. It’s a final, a completely different game where anything can happen. They just need to cut out mistakes and be concentrated for the 90 or 120 minutes.
“Unai Emery will think he knows how to beat United given he has played them before, but it’s a one off game. And you can be surprised by how unprepared the opposition can be. Emery knows United and Ole will have scouted Villareal. This is more about a game where concentration levels are vital and that you know what to do, then you will be OK.
Harry Maguire has been included in the squad but for me they don’t need to risk him. I saw him in crutches a few days ago. It depends on Ole if he is confident and Maguire is the captain. But I don’t think they should risk it.
He is the captain and a major figure. He can go to the manager and say that he feels OK. I can lead the team and say all of that. You will try to convince the manager even though you know deep down that you are not ready. You want to be part of games like this.
“It takes courage to admit you are not ready and that you would be the weak link in your team. He will try to convince the manager to play him and then it is up to Ole to decide whether he wants to do it. A central defender is a leading role in the team and if he is not 100%, Villareal will try to exploit it.
“I’m going with United as long as they ensure they don’t take unnecessary risks. They don’t need to play Maguire if he is still feeling the effects of his injury. United also need to play the ball well in the attacking third.
“United have the speed, class and talent to win either 2-1 or 2-0.”
Villarreal boss Unai Emery has qualified for his fifth Europa League final, but Kevin Hatchard – who has landed winning bets throughout this year’s competition – believes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United will get the better of him in Gdansk.
Kevin says: “United are 1.910/11 favourites in the Match Odds market, and I think that’s a price that has been inflated by the likely absence of Harry Maguire from the Red Devils’ defence. United have overcome Real Sociedad, Granada, Milan and Roma in the knockout phase, and despite the coaching excellence of Emery, I would put Villarreal in that bracket.
“Solskjaer’s men are capable of having a shocker now and again, but with a first major trophy under the Norwegian within touching distance, and with so much attacking quality in the side, I’ll back United to win the final inside 90 minutes.
“Edinson Cavani has shown his quality as a dedicated centre-forward this season, and the competitive flame still burns brightly in the Uruguayan. It would be a shock if Solskjaer didn’t ask the former PSG forward to spearhead the attack here, and it’s worth noting that he has scored in seven of his last ten matches in all competitions. He scored a brace in each of the two semi-final matches against Roma, and I think he’s overpriced to score here at 2.747/4.
“I also like the look of a bet that’s been boosted on the Sportsbook. You can back both Cavani and the excellent Villarreal striker Gerard Moreno to each have at least one shot on target at a hefty 2.56/4. I think that’s a fantastic bet, because Moreno has scored 23 goals in La Liga, and six in the Europa League. If Villarreal are to pose a threat in Gdansk, Moreno will be their chief outlet.”
Kevin’s bet: Back Edinson Cavani to score at 2.747/4
Unai Emery’s reputation took a beating at Arsenal but, as European football expert Andy Brassell explains, the Villarreal boss is back in his element and a formidable opponent for Manchester United.
Andy says: “What will matter in northern Poland is not just Emery’s experience but that of his players – Raúl Albiol, Dani Parejo, Etienne Capoue and Gerard Moreno have all been there and done it.
“The good news for Emery is that Moreno, the team’s outstanding player, has recovered his form since his iffy displays against Arsenal in the semis (which were the difference between the narrow victory Villarreal ended up with an the more comfortable one they perhaps should have had), with three goals and two assists in his last four matches.
“Moreno and his teammates will, at the very least, give United something to think about. Don’t be fooled by the little team act – Villarreal mean business this week in Gdansk.”
Manchester United are big favourites to win the Europa League final but Paul Higham thinks the stats point to Villarreal making a fast start tonight.
Paul says: “Man Utd were behind at the break nine times in the Premier League, and Villarreal have a strong first half record having never been behind after 45 minutes in this competition – being ahead eight times.
“Villarreal’s last seven Europa League goals have come in the first half, while 13 of Man Utd’s 18 goals in this competition have come after half time. With United being comeback kings, the Spanish side may not hold on but they’re more than capable of getting in front.
“While those stats are enough to have a dabble on the Spanish side to lead at the break, there’s also value in backing them to score the first goal of the final.
“United conceded first 14 times in the Premier League last season, and Emery’s men have notched the opener in nine out of 14 Europa League ties this campaign.
“It’s 2.77/4 for Villarreal to score first, and given how slow United have started in big games that’s a bet well worth being on.”
Manchester United’s season comes down a European final against Villarreal this Wednesday in Gdansk. Stephen Tudor backs them to prevail but only just…
Stephen says: “Who will be the hero (if the teams are level late on)? Edinson Cavani stands out in this regard, with the Uruguayan enjoying a rich seam of goal-scoring form of late. The United hit-man has converted nine in his last 10 appearances, including a wonder-strike v Fulham.
“As for Villarreal, it’s hard to look past Gerard Moreno as their main goal-threat. Enjoying a career-best campaign at the age of 29 the Spanish international has scored 29 times this term, equating to a goal every 119 minutes across all competitions, going right back to early September.