Wednesday Europa League Betting Odds & Picks for Villarreal vs. Manchester United: Expect Low-Scoring Affair in Finale (May 26)
Paul Ellis – Pool/Getty Images. Pictured: Manchester United standout Paul Pogba.
- Spanish side Villarreal takes on global power Manchester United in Wednesday's Europa League final.
- The Red Devils are heavy favorites, but could be missing captain/defensive anchor Harry Maguire for the title match.
- Matthew Trebby breaks down the contest below and details why he's expecting a low-scoring affair.
Villarreal vs. Manchester United Odds
|Manchester United Odds||-122|
|Over/Under||2.5 (+110 / -136)|
|Day | Time||Wednesday | 3 p.m. ET|
|How To Watch||Paramount+|
|Odds updated Tuesday morning via DraftKings|
Unai Emery is back in his natural habitat: the Europa League final.
The former Sevilla and Arsenal manager has reached this stage four times before, winning it three years in a row (2014-16) with Sevilla and two years ago with the Gunners.
However, the task Wednesday might be his tallest yet. Emery’s Villarreal side arise going up against global giant Manchester United, which finished second in the Premier League this season.
Emery’s goal will be for his La Liga stalwart to make this game ugly and hope to snag a goal for a win. Let’s dig into see where bettors should put their units.
Spanish Side Goes for Another English Upset
Emery’s Villarreal team has been much like his former Arsenal sides: underwhelming.
The Yellow Submarine registered more than 1.0 expected goals just twice in its last six games to finish the season. The numbers were more positive over the previous couple months, but it’s not good to be struggling in the chance-creation department entering a game where you’re going to be on the back foot for most of it.
Villarreal knocked out Arsenal how most teams have had success against the Gunners this season: by making them beat you. And Arsenal could not.
After a pair of defensive lapses gave Villarreal a 2-1 advantage in the first leg, Emery’s side simply sat back and soaked up the Gunners’ meaningless pressure in the away leg. They even won the xG battle by a 0.7-0.5 margin in a game where its primary focus was on defending.
That’s going to have to be the case again against Manchester United, although the Red Devils are much more capable of breaking their opponents down than the Gunners.
Villarreal’s best goalscoring hope lies in the form of Gerard Moreno, who comes in off the right wing with a strong left foot. They also got a big boost with left winger Samuel Chukwueze returning to training. The Nigerian left the second leg against Arsenal with an injury, which was unfortunate since he was clearly the most threatening attacker on the field for either team.
Red Devils Enter Final Down Captain/Defender Maguire
Like its Spanish opponent, Manchester United doesn’t enter this final in the best run of form. The Red Devils won just two of their final six games, and one of those victories — this past Sunday against Wolves — came with a lineup composed of players who won’t touch the starting group for this game.
I’m willing to give Manchester United more of a pass than I am Villarreal, though, for a couple reasons. One is that its Premier League fate was sealed for about a month. The Red Devils were always going to finish second once Manchester City secured the title.
The other is that Manchester United has been the busiest team in Europe over the past three weeks. Since May 6, the Red Devils have played six times, including a stretch of four games in eight days.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s starters will be well rested, with most played having sat out against Wolves and last featuring May 18 against Fulham. Prior to that six-match run, Manchester United had won six of seven and were steamrolling opponents. All but one of those wins was by multiple goals.
The biggest injury concern for Manchester United is that captain Harry Maguire appears to be losing a fitness race for this game. He suffered a knee injury on May 9 against Aston Villa that has him unlikely to face Villarreal, as well as facing a fitness race for the start of Euro 2020 tournament.
Maguire is not just a key defender for Manchester United, but also dictates its passing play out of the backline. Assuning Maguire is out, either Eric Bailly or Axel Tuanzebe will start alongside Victor Lindelof. However, neither replacement is as comfortable on the ball as the Englishman.
Macguire’s potential absence shouldn’t affect how Manchester United play against Villarreal. The Red Devils will still have plenty of the ball against a less-talented team. It will create more uncertainty, though, and Emery’s side might be focused on putting Maguire’s replacement under pressure early and often.
Betting Analysis & Picks
Unless Manchester United can come out and get an early goal to open things up, I don’t see this one being a very exciting affair.
The Red Devils obviously have all the quality in the world to break down their opponents, but given their recent form and unlikeliness to have Maguire, I don’t see them taking the game by the scruff of the neck from the start. I’d expect a more cautious approach early on , ensuring they’re defensively stable before opening things up after halftime.
That said, I like two bets on the total, one coming in the first half and the other for the entire game.
The total under 0.5 goals in the first half is +180 odds via DraftKings is my first play. Given how I see this game starting, I think there’s some very good value on that. Manchester United came out firing in its last game with a full-strength squad May 18 against Fulham, but that was its first game with fans back at Old Trafford and it really had nothing to play for.
It’ll be different in a cup final, and the experienced squad the Red Devils have will be aware of how detrimental conceding an early goal would be.
I also like the total staying under 2.5 goals as well at -136 odds. Title matches are generally tight, cagey affairs and I expect nothing different in Poland.
Picks: First Half — Under 0.5 Goals (+180) | Total Under 2.5 Goals (-136)