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.
Up next is the match between Russian club Krasnodar, who has the pleasure of hosting Spanish club Valencia. The game kicks off from Krasnodar Stadium in Krasnodar, Russia on 14 March 2019 at 5:55pm GMT (1:55pm EST).
What Happened in Leg 1
Valencia played host in the first leg, and the Spaniards took full advantage of the home crowd at Mestalla. Rodrigo scored twice in the first 25 minutes, giving Valencia the upper hand at half-time. Viktor Claesson scored an all important away goal for the Russians in the 63rd minute, but Krasnodar was unable to find an equalizer the rest of the way, and Valencia held on to win 2-1.
Krasnodar led in shots (11 to 9), but everything else – time of possession, passes, even fouls – were relatively equal. Valencia entered leg one with a 71% chance of advancing, so coming out on top in the initial leg was probably due to the home pitch advantage.
What the Experts are Saying
But they are also the better team, and that narrow victory in the first leg improved those same advancing odds to 77%, per the simulations at FiveThirtyEight. Not nearly as steep odds for Krasnodar in this match as some of the others, but still pretty long odds nonetheless.
For this match itself, Valencia is still favored to win regardless of the fact that they are the away team in the match. Their margin of error is narrowed a bit due to the narrow margin of victory and after allowing Krasnodar to score on the road, which aids the Russians should they somehow end up tied at the end of regular time.
What We’re Thinking
That said, I haven’t seen anything from the Russians that make me think they are the better club. They need to score first in the match on Thursday, and being in front of the home crowd may help in that regard. Will that be enough, or will all the La Liga battles that Valencia fought through be enough for them to hold on and advance through to the next round? Guess we’ll find out Thursday night.
Until next time…