Image source: Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images
Juan Mata has praised Villarreal players, warning his Manchester United teammates that Unai Emery could spring a “surprise” on them in the Europa League final.
The Red Devils are set to face the Spanish club in the final of the European competition in Gdansk on Wednesday.
“If we talk now about the present, with Unai on the bench, it’s a very well-organised team with quality, with players that I know very well,” Mata told United’s website.
“It’s difficult to play against his teams.
“I played with some of their players. Raul Albiol, centre-back, we played together in Valencia and the national team, [Dani] Parejo, great midfielder, Paco Alcacer, striker and very good finisher.
“They’ve got a great striker in Gerard Moreno, they’ve got quality in the midfield, a very good centre-back in Pau Torres. Sergio Asenjo, one of the goalkeepers, was also my team-mate in the Spanish Under-21s. I know them very well, they’ve beaten good teams in this season’s Europa League, like Arsenal.”
On Emery, who he previously played under at Valencia, Mata added: “He’s a methodic manager, hard-working, professional, preparing for every single game like a final.
“We will have to be ready because I’m sure he’ll come up with something different, some kind of surprise from their team, tactically or from set pieces.
“We have to be ready. I think it’s the biggest game in their history.
“We need to realise that they will give everything and more, so we need to be prepared for that.
“Villarreal is a club that has been doing a lot of good things over the last 15 or 20 years. On and off the pitch, it’s a very well-structured club.”