21st of February 2019 Author: Johnny Karp
LaLiga side Villarreal are looking to defend their advantage in Thursday's second leg against Portuguese side Sporting at Estadio de la Ceramica. The Spaniards won last week's first leg 1-0 with a third-minute goal from Alfonso Pedraza, Sporting were unable to fight back and their frustration resulted in a red card for Marcos Acuna. That was the first ever direct match between these two sides. Villarreal have won three of their five matches against Portuguese teams in European competitions, while Sporting have won just seven of their 27 games against Spanish teams and none away from home.
Villarreal had their best days of the season last week, they won two consecutive matches for the first time since the beginning of the campaign. The 1-0 victory at Sporting was followed by a good 3-0 win over Sevilla in LaLiga at the weekend, a result which moved them up to seventeenth place. However, Villarreal remain in the relegation zone and some of their fans might regard the Europa League as an unnecessary distraction during the final part of the season. Santiago Caseres is suspended for Thursday's match, while Bruno Soriano remains injured. Jaume Costa was suspended for the first leg but he is available for the second.
Sporting were not expecting to lose the first leg at home, they had lost just one of their home matches in the Portuguese league this season. Their UEFA Europa League campaign went quite well so far, they finished second behind Arsenal in the group stage and lost just one of the six matches. However, they are fourth in the Portuguese league and they have won just four of their ten away matches so far. Marcos Acuna is suspended after getting sent off in the first leg, while Jeremy Mathieu, Fredy Montero and Rodrigo Battaglia are all sidelined with injuries.
Villarreal: Fernandez - Golzalez, Ruiz, Mori - Gaspar, Fuego, Trigueros, Pedraza - Chukwueze, Fornals - Bacca
Sporting: Salin - Gaspar, Coates, Pinto, Jefferson - Luis, Petrovic, Fernandes - Cabral, Dost, Raphinha
My prediction: 1-1 draw, Villarreal should be able to retain their advantage and push through to the last sixteen.
Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:
Villarreal win - 1.90
Draw - 3.60
Sporting win - 4.50
24th of October 2018
20th of February 2019
I think that's been one of the upsets in the tournament, Villarreal who's really struggling in La Liga whole season long have been able to throw out Sporting from the tournament and it wasn't undeserved of a result as well.
But the home side should really think of their La Liga form now cause there's many examples of a struggling league team reaching the last stages of some of the cups and being relegated consequently, even though a good sides like Villarreal.
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