Manchester United vs Villarreal LIVE Football Score 29 Sept 2021
Just over four months after losing the Europa League final to Villarreal, Manchester United will be seeking revenge against their Spanish counterparts when the two sides lock horns in the Champions League group stage on Wednesday night.
The Red Devils suffered a surprise 2-1 defeat to Young Boys in their opening Group F encounter, while the Yellow Submarine played out a 2-2 draw at home against Atalanta.
Heading into the month of September, Manchester United fans would have been expecting their side to go through a relatively straightforward fixture schedule unscathed, however the last few weeks have proven to be quite challenging for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, losing three of their last four games across all competitions.
After securing a 4-1 victory at home to Newcastle United shortly after the international break, their Champions League campaign got off to a nightmare start when they were defeated 2-1 by Group F outsiders Young Boys in Switzerland.
The Red Devils then came from behind to beat West Ham United 2-1 away from home in the Premier League, however the Hammers got their revenge just a few days later by winning 1-0 at Old Trafford in the EFL Cup. United then returned to full strength at home against Aston Villa on Saturday, but the visitors claimed three well-earned points, piling pressure on Solskjaer’s shoulders.
Kourtney Hause’s 88th-minute header condemned United to their second successive home defeat, however they had the chance to rescue a point in stoppage time, only for Bruno Fernandes – usually so reliable from the penalty spot, scoring 42 of his last 45 spot-kicks – to blaze his effort from 12 yards over the crossbar.
Currently in the middle of a run of four consecutive home games across all competitions, United now turn their attention back to the Champions League where they come up against a Villarreal outfit, who they have failed to beat in each of their five previous European encounters. In fact, all five meetings against them have ended in draws, four of which were goalless, except for last season’s Europa League final which the La Liga side won 11-10 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in 120 minutes.
Manchester United have a poor record against Spanish opposition in the Champions League, having failed to win any of their last seven matches against them, with their last such victory against Real Sociedad back in October 2013.
In addition, Solskjaer himself has an unwanted Champions League record as United’s boss, as the Norwegian is the only manager in the club’s history to lose more than 50% of his games in charge, losing seven of his 11 matches in the competition.
United have never lost their opening two games in a major European competition, but if they were to fall short on Wednesday night, then further questions will certainly be asked regarding Solskjaer’s long-term future at the helm. Villarreal extended their unbeaten record across all competitions to seven matches, when they played out a goalless draw away at Spanish giants Real Madrid last weekend.
Unai Emery’s side have now drawn five of their opening six La Liga matches; only Bundesliga outfit Eintracht Frankfurt have drawn as many games at this stage of the season in Europe’s top-five leagues. One of those draws was at home against Atalanta in their first Champions League group game, though they were leading up until the 83rd minute when Robin Gosens equalised for the visitors, forcing both sides to share the spoils.
Villarreal are currently unbeaten in their last 16 European matches across both the Europa League and Champions League, the longest run of any team at present. Espanyol are the only Spanish side who have enjoyed a longer unbeaten run in European history, going 20 games without defeat between September 2006 and November 2009.
There are plenty of pros and cons for Emery to take away from their opening set of fixtures. Their resilience to grind out at least a draw and stay unbeaten should be commended, but having drawn four games without scoring, question marks will be raised regarding their threat going forward.
Last season’s top goalscorer Gerard Moreno, who found the net 30 times across all competitions, has yet to hit the ground running this term, although he has missed the last few games due to injury and is a major doubt for Wednesday’s encounter.
Emery has only won two of his seven games as a manager against Man United, but if the former Arsenal boss is able to guide his side to a victory at Old Trafford, then the Yellow Submarine will find themselves in a promising position to advance from Group F, even at this early stage.