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Europa League Semi-Final: Man Utd v Roma And Arsenal v Villarreal

The Europa League semi-finals are set as Manchester United will take on Roma and Arsenal face Villarreal. Both games will feature a reunion as former Manchester United defender Chris Smalling will face his former club for the first time, while former Arsenal manager Unai Emery will try and outmaneuver the man who replaced him Mikel Arteta.

Here is a look at the two semi-finals.

Manchester United v Roma
Manchester United
Why this is their year

Last season’s semi-final defeat to Sevilla hurt Ole Gunnar Solskjær and his players. United paid a heavy price for their profligacy that night but are determined not to make the same mistakes this time around.

Solskjær normally sets his team up in a 4-2-3-1 formation but has been known to deploy a 3-4-1-2 system, and has even experimented with a 4-4-2 diamond.

Key player: Bruno Fernandes
With nearly 40 goals or assists in all competitions this season, Bruno Fernandes remains the beating heart of this Red Devils team.

Why this is their year

Roma had been cruising before being made to battle against Ajax before making it through anyway. They have the perfect mix of qualities, and in Europe they have shown they can go all the way.

Roma play a 3-4-2-1, utilising a midfielder – Bryan Cristante – in the centre of the back three to dictate play from deep, two very attacking wing-backs and two creative playmakers in the hole behind a lone striker.

Key player: Jordan Veretout
Roma’s system might fall apart without Veretout, the keystone in the middle. A complete box-to-box midfielder, the Frenchman mops up at the back and gets in on the action further forward, too – he is into double figures this season.

Villarreal vs Arsenal
Why this is their year

Unai Emery has won this competition three times and is working for a club who are now in their fourth semi-final. Villarreal want this trophy and qualification for the UEFA Champions League equally badly.

Emery can adapt to circumstances and opportunities, but this season, the Yellow Submarine have largely lined up in a 4-3-3 formation, which he can switch to a 4-5-1 when he has to.

Key player: Gerard Moreno
Spanish international Moreno is a real nuisance for defenders and his eye for goal makes him a player everyone should be wary of.

Why this is their year
The Gunners will want to make up for a below-par Premier League campaign by enjoying success in Europe. They certainly still have their deficiencies, but a free-flowing, attacking style means they always look to have goals in them.

Arsenal’s preferred approach in this competition has been to get the ball into wide areas and get crosses into the penalty area; overlapping full-backs help to provide the width. They build well from the back with patience.

Key player: Alexandre Lacazette
Lacazette has found form in recent weeks, providing goals – including two in the quarter-final second leg at Slavia – as well as an invaluable all-round contribution; he drops deep to collect the ball and helps to link play.

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