The last time I wrote a match preview on utddistrict.co.uk involving Villarreal, the subsequent match went very wrong. It was the Europa League final, and Manchester United were all set up to cap off a 2nd placed Premier League finish with Ole Gunnar Solskjær‘s first trophy as manager of the club. The match ended up as a 1-1 draw after 120 minutes, with David de Gea missing his penalty in the shootout to hand victory to the Spaniards.
This time round, the Red Devils shall be taking on the Yellow Submarine in the second gameweek of the 2021/22 Champions League season. United have had a fairly mixed start to the season, with recent results suggesting that the side need a confidence boost, after three losses in their last four games.Embed from Getty Images
The match is due to kick off at 20:00 BST and will be broadcast live on BT Sport in the UK.
United’s Champions League campaign this season got off to a disaterous start. Away to BSC Young Boys, United scored first via a customary Cristiano Ronaldo goal, however Aaron Wan-Bissaka was sent off for a reckless challange and the tide of the game was turned. Young Boys capitalised on the extra man (and a poor 95th minute back-pass from Jesse Lingard) and scored two goals in the second half to earn themselves three points.
Villarreal’s Champions League start against Italian side Atalanta resulted in a 2-2 draw, with former Arsenal midfielder Francis Coquelin being sent off for them. Villarreal are currently sitting 11th in La Liga with one win and four draws in their last 5 league fixtures (including a 0-0 draw against Real Madrid), however as we all know, the UCL is always different gravy where league form is often out the window.Embed from Getty Images
Both sides are currently in the middle of a bit of a slump, so Solskjær and Unai Emery will both be looking at this fixture to be a real chance to change their fortunes. United will be looking to their home crowd to help them reignite their the goalscoring form everyone knows they possess, and the Villarreal faithful will be travelling in their masses to Old Trafford with what I’m sure will be many a taunt about last season’s final ready.
Manchester United have recieved mixed injury news this week. Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire both went off injured for the Reds this in last weekend’s loss to Aston Villa, and Solskjær has said they are unlikely to be available for this fixture. However, there has been some good news as well, with Marcus Rashford back in training after going under surgery for a long-term shoulder problem.
Ivorian youngster Amad is also back in training for United, after his loan move to Feyenoord fell through at the end of the window due to an injury he sustained in training.
For Villarreal, they are facing one injury to star winger Samuel Chukwueze, with it being a race to see if he will be fit to face the Red Devils at Old Trafford.
One to Watch
Having been withdrawn early in Manchester United’s last Champions League fixture against Young Boys due to a tactic shift after the red card, Jadon Sancho will have a point to prove. It has been a slow but steady start for the young winger, and although he is yet to have any goal involvements this season, his performances are only improving.Embed from Getty Images
Last Wednesday, against West Ham, he was one of United’s better players, looking to take on his man and drive the attack forwards. He often performed well in the Champions League for Borussia Dortmund, playing a crutial role in some of their biggest wins in recent seasons, so it will only be a matter of time before Sancho re-discovers his blistering form and this game may come as a perfect opportunity to continue his re-settlement in Manchester.
A bad start, but far from over
There are many words to describe that result against Young Boys, and none of them are positive. There is no doubt that it was a shambles of what really should have been a routine win for United, however this season’s Champions League group is by no means finished. With five games including three home matches waiting for United, it is still very realistic for United to win the group, provided they are no more major slip ups.