United, of course, dropped into the Europa League in February, having been knocked out of the Champions League in the group stages. We beat Villarreal’s compatriots Real Sociedad 4-0 on aggregate, before Paul Pogba’s goal at the San Siro helped us edge past Milan, 2-1. A further four-goal triumph was recorded over Granada in the quarter-finals, before an exciting semi-final tie with Roma ended 8-5 on aggregate, with Edinson Cavani helping himself to four across the two games.

Our opponents have built an impressive 14-match unbeaten run in this season’s competition, with the Spanish side comfortably finishing top of a group containing Sivasspor, Qarabag and Maccabi Tel Aviv. They then won both legs of their round-of-32, round-of-16 and quarter-final ties with RB Salzburg (4-1 on aggregate), Dynamo Kiev (4-0) and Dinamo Zagreb (3-1) respectively, to set up a semi-final with manager Emery’s former club Arsenal. Goals from Manu Trigueros and Raul Albiol secured a slender 2-1 advantage to take to north London, and a scoreless draw at the Emirates a week later ensured a first major European final in the club’s history.


United and Villarreal have met four times previously, facing off in the group stages of the Champions League in 2005/06 and 2008/09. Remarkably, all four clashes with the Yellow Submarine ended goalless – let’s hope for a little more entertainment on Wednesday!