11th of April 2019 Author: Johnny Karp
An all-Spanish battle will take place at Estadio de la Ceramica on Thursday evening, when Villarreal host Valencia in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League quarter-final tie. These two sides have met once before in an European competition, it happened in the 2004 UEFA Cup semi-finals and Valencia won the home match 1-0 after a goalless draw at Villarreal. This season's LaLiga match in Villarreal also ended goalless, while the reverse fixture was won 3-0 by Valencia. Overall, Valencia have won two of the last six direct matches, while Villarreal grabbed three victories.
For Villarreal there might be bigger worries than the UEFA Europa League during the final two months of the season, but they would surely love to go all the way in this competition, hoping that they would survive in the Spanish top flight as well. Last week Villarreal lost 2-1 at Betis in LaLiga and dropped back into the relegation zone, tied on 30 points with Valladolid. The situation is not desperate yet, but they would need to win at least three or four of their final seven matches of the season to make sure they remain in the top flight. Defender Daniele Bonera picked up an injury during last week's match and will be unavailable, while Jaume Costa, Miguelon, Javi Fuego, Manu Trigueros and Bruno Soriano remain injury worries for the home side.
Valencia have their own domestic worries during the final weeks of the season, they have fallen behind in the race for a top-four finish in LaLiga and winning the Europa League would be the perfect alternative if they miss out on that objective since the reward is the same: qualification for next season's Champions League. Last week Valencia lost 2-0 at Rayo Vallecano and dropped to sixth place, four points behind fourth-placed Getafe. Francis Coquelin and Ruben Sobrino are injury doubts for the visitors, while Carlos Soler is suspended for this match. Daniel Parejo and Facundo Roncaglia are available again after having served their suspensions.
Villarreal: Fernandez - Gonzalez, Mori, Ruiz - Gaspar, Caseres, Iborra, Fornals, Pedraza - Bacca, Moreno
Valencia: Neto - Piccini, Garay, Diakhaby, Gaya - Wass, Parejo, Kondogbia, Cheryshev - Moreno, Mina
My prediction: 0-0 draw, both sides will be focused on not conceding goals in this first leg.
Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:
Villarreal win - 3.00
Draw - 3.30
Valencia win - 2.60
21st of February 2019
3rd of October 2018
Villarreal doing pretty poor in La Liga this season so probably they are more concerned of not loosing their top tier spot right now than progressing further in EL but still they've been equal if not better to Valencia in that game.
A couple of very late goals though gave the visitors a lead which honestly it's quite tough for me to imagine they could loose in the re-match especially at home against a struggling opponent.
So it's all looks to be predetermined in this tie.
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