Man Utd: Solskjaer 'quietly confident' before Europa League final
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Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is yet to officially announce his starting XI for tonight’s Europa League final clash with Villarreal in Gdansk. However, his team sheets over the course of the campaign suggest six players will definitely start. So Express Sport will now take a look at who is expected to feature in the match against Unai Emery’s side.
United struck gold when they signed Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace in the summer transfer window of 2019.
The right-back has been a regular in Solskjaer’s side, starting most matches across all competitions this term.
And, with that the case, Wan-Bissaka is a guaranteed starter for tonight’s match with Villarreal.
Solskjaer has Brandon Williams and Axel Tuanzebe also capable of playing there but it’s hard to imagine either of the pair getting the nod.
Harry Maguire is expected to miss out for United against Villarreal, with the England international still sidelined through injury.
The sight of him hobbling around in Gdansk last night definitely doesn’t bode well.
But with Victor Lindelof having no such fitness issues, the Sweden international is set to start at centre-back.
The Sweden international has been in good form throughout the season and will be looking to claim his first major trophy with the club.
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When United signed Alex Telles from Porto back in the summer transfer window, many expected the Brazil international to start most matches.
After all, Luke Shaw had struggled prior to the arrival of the Samba star.
But Shaw has turned his Old Trafford career around and now starts virtually every game of importance.
He’s won Solskjaer’s faith, in stark contrast to Jose Mourinho, and will be hoping to cause Villarreal problems at both ends of the pitch this evening.
When Paul Pogba is fit and firing, he starts. It’s as simple as that.
There have been times this season where Solskjaer has had to cope without the France international due to injury.
But when Pogba is available, his manager hasn’t hesitated to throw him into the mix.
And that’s likely to be the case tonight, with Solskjaer primed to call on his big guns to carry his side over the line.
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Let’s rewind to December 2019 for a second.
United were a club very much in crisis, with fans booing them off the Old Trafford pitch after a chastening 2-0 defeat to Burnley.
But, ever since Bruno Fernandes arrived, they’ve been a team completely transformed.
The Portugal international has scored 28 goals across all competitions this term – more than any other player – and that makes him a shoe-in to make the cut.
Marcus Rashford has admitted he’s played through the pain for United this season.
And that’s because Solskjaer knows his side are far stronger with the England international than they are without him.
He’s bagged 21 goals and clocked up 12 assists across all competitions this term, enhancing his reputation as one of the best attackers on the planet.
And United will be hopeful Rashford can play through the pain once last time to deliver them the trophy they crave.
Solskjaer speaks out
Speaking before the match against Villarreal, Solskjaer admitted the fixture would define his side’s season.
“You go into every game as the next one is the most important one,” said the 48-year-old.
“This now is a final that happens to be at the end of a season.
“You can define the season after tomorrow. So far we’ve improved but we’ll only all go home happy if we win.”
He then added: “I think players, when they get the taste of success, when they win trophies, win something, it can go two ways; we’ve done it now and we can relax or, as I’ve had a few times, it just gives you more of that feeling.
“You want more, you want it all the time, you want the feeling again with your teammates, with your club.
“This group of players has been working hard for a year, a year-and-a-half, together and it’s the next step for them now to go and enjoy a game like this.”
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