The Round of 16 in the UEFA Europa League unfolds over the next two Thursdays, so before the action kicks off around Europe on Thursday afternoon, we thought we would preview the eight matchups of the round.
In our final preview of the round, we’re going to take a look at the matchup between Spanish club Valencia and Russian club Krasnodar. Their leg one match kicks off from Mestalla Stadium in Valencia, Spain on Thursday 7 March at 8:00pm GMT (3:00pm EST).
What Happened in the Round of 32
Valencia was drawn against Scottish club Celtic, and they were nearly 3-to-1 favorites heading into the opening match of the round. After a 2-0 win in Scotland, and with a home match looming for the second leg, those odds shot up to 97%, and Valencia secured a spot in the Round of 16 with a 1-0 victory at Mestalla, advancing 3-0 on aggregate.
Krasnodar had to work a little harder to make the Round of 16. A scoreless draw in the first leg against Bayer Leverkusen left both clubs with about equal odds of advancing, with leg two hosts Leverkusen the slight favorite. With time winding down, the Russians took a late 1-0 lead on a goal in the 84th minute by Magomed-Shapi Suleymanov. With advancement in their eyes, they simply had to make it another 6+ minutes, but Bayer equalized with a goal in the 87th minute by Charles Aránguiz, but still needed to add another to win on aggregrate. Fortunately for Krasnodar, the match ended in a 1-1 draw, with Krasnodar advancing because of their away goal.
What the Experts are Saying
This matchup is closer to Valencia’s last round than Krasnodar’s, with the Spaniards with a 71% chance of making it through to the quarterfinals. They also currently have a 1-in-8 chance of winning the entire tournament, and are a bit less than 50/50 to make the semifinals. But Krasnodar overcame the odds during the last round, and have the benefit of hosting the second leg next week.
What We’re Thinking
That said, Krasnodar’s only path to victory is to win a shocker in Spain tonight, and that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. They only have a 13% chance of winning (according to FiveThirtyEight), and only a 25% chance of forcing a draw. Krasnodar lost two Europa League matches on the road during the group stage, but they did travel well last round. Unfortunately for them, however, Valencia has only lost twice all season at home (and one of those losses was in the group stage of Champions League to Juventus). I expect them to win this leg one match tonight, and likely the round, and they will maintain their favored status in the quarterfinals (at least until the draw).
Until next time…