The 2020/21 UEFA Europa League final in the Polish seaport of Gdańsk brings together Spanish competition stalwarts Villarreal, who have never previously lifted a major European trophy, and 2016/17 winners Manchester United, who are competing in their 14th UEFA final.
• The Spanish side are led by head coach Unai Emery, who steered Sevilla to a hat-trick of UEFA Europa League successes from 2013/14 to 2015/16 as well as taking Arsenal to the 2018/19 final, while his counterpart Ole Gunnar Solskjær is looking to win his first continental trophy as a manager – and his first silverware in two and a half years as the United boss.
• Villarreal cruised to first place in UEFA Europa League Group I ahead of Maccabi Tel-Aviv, Sivasspor and Qarabağ to reach the round of 32 for the eighth time before comfortably disposing of UEFA Champions League group stage participants Salzburg (2-0 a, 2-1 h) and Dynamo Kyiv (2-0 a, 2-0 h). They also won both quarter-final matches against Dinamo Zagreb (1-0 a, 2-1 h) and then knocked out United’s Premier League rivals – and Emery’s former employers – Arsenal in the semi-final (2-1 h, 0-0 a). Villarreal are undefeated in Europe in 2020/21 with 11 wins and two draws.
• Solskjær’s team competed in the UEFA Champions League during the autumn, defeats in their final two Group H fixtures leaving them in third place on nine points behind Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig. They have subsequently come through four UEFA Europa League ties, eliminating two Spanish clubs, Real Sociedad in the round of 32 (4-0 a, 0-0 h) and Granada in the quarter-finals (2-0 a, 2-0 h), as well as two from Italy – AC Milan in the round of 16 (1-1 h, 1-0 a) and Roma in the semi-finals (6-2 h, 2-3 a), the second-leg defeat in Rome ending their unbeaten run in this season’s competition.