Manchester United are set to host Villareal in Group F action in the Champions League. The two teams last met in Europa League final; a match that made Villareal the Europa League Champions.
Manchester United’s season so far has been a mixed bag. Now that the hype around Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford has settled down, the issues in the team are starting to become clear. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men are currently fourth in the Premier League just one point off the leaders Liverpool, but they have already been knocked out of the League Cup and frustrated in their opening Champions League game against Young Boys. A third home defeat this season is sure to dampen the mood around Old Trafford and will raise more questions on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s ability to transform the team into title contenders. In their recent game in the Premier League, they conceded a late goal. Although they were awarded a chance in the stoppage time to end the game on equal terms, Bruno Fernandes’ missed penalty meant that Aston Villa take home all three points. Manchester United would be looking to open their account in the Champions League against Villareal. Aaron Wan-Bisaka remains suspended for this fixture after picking up a red card in their previous game in the Champions League. Both Rashford and Diallo are set to miss out with injuries, while Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire remain doubtful as well.
In their previous game in the Champions League, Manchester United’s xT timeline shows that they started the first half creating high xT, but as the game progressed, they were unable to trouble the opposition and were dominated. Their xG timeline follows a similar suit.
In terms of recoveries in the midfield third and recoveries in midfield third per 90, Manchester United are placed eighth in the Champions League.
Villarreal are currently unbeaten in La Liga, although they have drawn five of their six league matches. Their unbeaten record has extended to seven matches in all competitions when they played out 0-0 draw away at Spanish giants Real Madrid last weekend. In their Champions League opening game, they drew against Atalanta at home. Despite leading the game till the 83rd minute, Atalanta equalised for the visitors and the two teams took home a point each. Villarreal boast an incredible European record, they are currently unbeaten in their last 16 matches in Europe both in the Europa League and the Champions League. Francis Coquelin is set to miss out on this fixture on account of being suspended in the match against Atalanta. Chukwueze, Foyth and Raba all remain doubtful as well. Last season’s top scorer for Villareal, Gerard Moreno will also miss the game due to an injury.
Villarreal’s xG puts them on the eighth spot while their xG per 90 puts them in seventh. They have been a better side defensively.
Unai Emery’s side have shown their tenacity to take out at least one point from their fixtures. Their PPDA of 7.6 puts them fourth and it indicates that they apply high defensive pressure effectively. Their average challenge intensity is equally respectable.
Manchester United (4-2-3-1) – David De Gea; Diogo Dalot, Raphael Varane, Victor Lindelof, Alex Telles; Fred, Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba; Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood; Cristiano Ronaldo
Villarreal (4-4-2) – Geronimo Rulli; Pervis Estupinan, Pau Torres, Raul Albiol, Alfonso Pedraza; Yeremi Pino, Etienne Capoue, Dani Parejo, Manuel Trigueros; Boulaye Dia, Paco Alcacer
Manchester United’s recent fixtures had no shortage of goals. Having Cristiano Ronaldo in your side means that he will deliver. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will need to sort his defence and midfield if they are to come out on top in this one. United would be looking to take the lead earlier in the match although this won’t be an easy feat as Villarreal are adept at sitting in their half and frustrating their opponents. Home advantage can play an important role in this fixture. United are favourites going into the match. They should come out on top in this one.