Europa League – Valencia v Villarreal – Quarterfinal Round
After a quick turnaround, Europa League is back with leg two of the quarterfinal matches this week. We’re going to take a quick look at those matchups this week, and after last week’s leg one action, most of the matchups are likely settled, at least per the various odds published around the internet.
Up next, we’re going to take a look at the matchup between Spanish rivals Valencia and Villarreal. Their leg two match kicks off from Mestalla in Valencia, Spain on Thursday, 18 April at 9:00pm GMT (3:00pm EST).
What Happened Leg One
Villarreal welcomed Valencia to Estadio de la Cerámica last week, and it didn’t take long for the visitors to get on the board. After a brilliant save of a penalty kick by Villarreal keeper Sergio Asenjo, Gonçalo Guedes found the rebound and sent it home to take a 1-0 lead six minutes into the match.
Villarreal was able to pull even later in the first half when Santi Cazorla converted a penalty kick in the 36th minute, and the clubs entered the halftime break tied at 1-1.
The clubs would remain tied for the rest of regular time, but two goals from Valencia in added time – Daniel Wass at 90+1′ and Guedes at 90+3′ – allowed the visitors to come away with the victory, leaving the Villarreal supporters in attendance stunned.
Villarreal lost despite winning the statistical battle. They outshot Valencia 16-11 overall, and 6-4 in shots considered “on target.” They also won the possession fight, holding the ball nearly 60% of the time and completing 200 more passes. It wasn’t enough to come out on top, however, as Valencia simply moved the ball quickly towards goal when they had it and scored on 75% of the shots that were on target. Hard to win matches when your opponent is just finding the back of the net.
What the Experts are Saying
Entering leg one, Valencia was an overwhelming favorite, advancing in 62% of FiveThirtyEight simulations. With their last minute victory, their odds of advancing to the semifinals has increased to 97%, and Valencia is favored in Thursday’s match as well, winning in 58% of simulations. I don’t see this going any other way, and with Villarreal needing to score at least three goals to overcome Valencia’s away goal advantage, those long odds are likely indicative how things will play out from Valencia tomorrow.
What We’re Thinking
Villarreal’s long odds in this one won’t be helped by the absence of defender Álvaro, who is suspended for the match thanks to card accumulation. Otherwise, the clubs will likely send out the same squads that just played last week. Valencia may use their two goal advantage to rest some players that are on the cusp of suspension, as well as find an extra day off for a club in the midst of league competition.
Villarreal, on the other hand, is really playing out the season, and would need an unlikely Europa League win to play in Europe again next season. They are currently in 15th place in La Liga – a win last weekend moved them out of the relegation zone – but they are all but eliminated from competing for 7th place and a berth in next year’s Europa League.
I don’t see Villarreal finding 3+ goals in this one to come out on top, and if the other match in this side of the semifinal bracket goes to form, Valencia will be hosting Arsenal next month in the first match of the semis. Villarreal should turn their focus to staying up in La Liga… unless Valencia is over-confident and sends a “B” squad
Until next time…