Its matchday two in group F of the UEFA Champions League and it already seems a must win game for various reasons, one main reason is after United losing their opening game 2-1 away to BSC Young Boys, losing your first two games in the UCL group stages will add a lot of pressure on both the players and the manager as they would need to win the rest of the games to make it through the group, making this game against Villarreal very important.
Solskjær: “We lost three points last time [in group stage]. If you end up with zero or one point after two games you need to win the last four games probably. Not a must win game but an important one.”
There will be a lot of tension coming into this game by Manchester United fans, one reason is because this is a rematch of the unsuccessful trip to Gdansk back in May, where Man Utd lost on penalties to Villareal to come back to Manchester with the Europa League trophy, another reason for this tension in this match is because Man Utd are currently in a bad spell of form, losing three of the last four games, with pressure mounting to provide good performances and a win to end this poor form.
In the previous game against Aston Villa, two key players, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw, had to be substituted early due to injury, Solskjaer has confirmed that Harry Maguire will be out of this upcoming game vs Villareal, but Luke Shaw could be available, this means that either Eric Bailly or Victor Lindelof will be likely partners for Raphael Varane in the back line.
Solskjær on Harry Maguire: “It is his calf, that might take a few weeks. Let’s see how quickly he recovers. He wanted to play against Villarreal, he missed the last game. We will have to make a few changes.”
Man Utd have never had a good record against Villarreal, the two teams have played five times, all in the Champion League, all five ending in draws after the full time whistle, with four being 0-0 draws with the exception being the Europa League final, where Villarreal won on penalties.
Since winning the Europa League, Villarreal have not had the best of form, playing eight competitive games, winning once, losing twice and drawing five times, leaving them currently 11th in La Liga and joint second in group F after drawing 2-2 with Atalanta in game week 1.
Cristiano Ronaldo has an exceptional record against Villarreal, scoring 13 goals and providing 5 assists in 15 games against the Spanish side, he also played the four games prior to the Europa League final, with the games being in 2005 and 2008.
Solskjær on Ronaldo’s record against Villarreal: “13 goals in 14 or 15 against Villarreal means he enjoys playing against them. He knows Albiol, Torres, top defenders. He is determined to score every time he is on the pitch.”
Villarreal also have a couple of big injuries coming into this game, their talisman and scorer in the Europa League final last season, Gerard Moreno; he is currently out with a muscle injury, he scored 30 goals and assisted 11 times in 46 games last season, so he will be a big miss for Unai Emery, who will also be without ex-Tottenham defender Juan Foyth and could be without young winger Samuel Chukwueze.
Man Utd have been given a boost with their absentees, with Amad Diallo and Marcus Rashford returning to Carrington for individual training following their injuries, but won’t be available for selection for a few weeks, Wan-Bissaka is suspended for this game after picking up a red card against BSC Young Boys