Spain’s Villarreal and England’s Manchester United will battle for the Europa League trophy on northern Poland’s Baltic coast on Wednesday.
As the city of Gdansk gets ready to play host to the 2021 UEFA Europa League final, Villarreal boss Unai Emery seeks to add to his already sparkling Europa League record while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is attempting to win his first trophy as Manchester United manager.
When is the kick-off?
The game will be played on Wednesday, May 26, kicking off at 9pm local time (19:00 GMT).
Are fans allowed inside the stadium?
Up to 9,500 fans are expected to be inside the stadium for the final. According to UEFA, Europe’s football governing body, both finalists have received 2,000 tickets each while 2,000 general public tickets were sold via UEFA.com.
Some Manchester United supporters, however, will refrain from making the trip due to the requirement of 10 days of quarantine and multiple COVID-19 tests.
“There are quite a few among the regulars who go to European away games that have cancelled, not purely because of the cost – because we have not been travelling for 18 months anyways – but mostly because of the quarantine when we get back,” United fan Keith Udale told Reuters news agency.
Is it United’s time finally?
Solskjaer, the hero of one of Manchester United’s greatest European nights in 1999, will aim to guide the club to a first title in four years .
United’s last trophy came in the 2016-17 Europa League under Jose Mourinho when it became just the fifth club to win all three major UEFA competitions.
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) May 26, 2021
Defeat to Sevilla last season was the third of four semi-final losses for Solskjaer since replacing Mourinho in December 2018, but an 8-5 aggregate win over Roma finally broke the curse.
“These are big nights for us. It might be the stepping stone for something better to come, a bright future because this team is a young team,” Solskjaer, who scored the winning goal in the 1999 Champions League final, said in Gdansk on Tuesday.
“Every player who goes into a final has the expectation and pressure to win. You have to prepare to win, we plan to win, we expect to win.”
United finished second to Manchester City in the Premier League while Villarreal came seventh in La Liga in Emery’s first season.
First-time lucky for Villarreal?
Not only are Villarreal appearing in a first European final and seeking a first major trophy, but they have the added incentive of Champions League qualification at stake in Poland.
Villarreal lost four previous European semi-finals before dumping out Arsenal in the last-four, and are unbeaten on the continent this season, winning 12 of 14 matches.
— Villarreal CF (@VillarrealCF) May 26, 2021
Emery is a three-time Europa League winner with Sevilla.
“This competition has improved hugely and it’s full of powerful teams of the top level who are desperate to win it and Villarreal has earned a place in that group,” said Emery.
Gerard Moreno’s career-best 23 goals in La Liga this season put him level with Karim Benzema, with only Lionel Messi scoring more (30). The 29-year-old was one of two Villarreal players called up to Spain’s Euro 2020 squad this week along with centre-back Pau Torres.
“For most of us this is our first European final and most important game of our careers so far. We’re going to try and enjoy it,” said Torres, who has been linked with a summer move to United.
🇵🇹 Every Bruno Fernandes goal in this competition! 🔥
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) May 23, 2021
Will there be VAR?
UEFA has confirmed that the video assistant referee (VAR) system, which has been used throughout the knockout phase, will be used for the final.
How many substitutions are allowed?
Five. In the event of the final going into extra time, each side will be allowed to make a sixth substitution.