Best Odds: 23/10
Having witnessed a serious dip in form on domestic stage, Villarreal will have an extra motive to give their best in the Europa League clash against AS Roma, although said fixture comes just three days before the important match against La Liga top 4 rivals Real Sociedad. The Giallorossi have been quite impressive of late and they will fancy their chances of winning at El Madrigal.
Villarreal were successfully balancing between their La Liga and Europa League campaigns in the first part of the season, but this is where things get tricky. While the Yellow Submarine also hope to reach the final stages of the European competition, the top 4 chase in the league remains the priority, and head coach Fran Escriba definitely face a dilemma ahead of the first leg against AS Roma. Just three days later, Villarreal will face top 4 rivals Real Sociedad on the road and with the El Madrigal outfit currently sitting five points behind La Real, that will be a must-win game for them. Nevertheless, with the boss having so far fielded strong sides in Europa League, he can be trusted to do it again when facing AS Roma, although it is clear that the game comes at a bad time for the hosts. Namely, Villarreal have won just one of last nine games in all competitions, scoring mere 7 goals, so it is clear that they will quickly need to show serious improvement if they want to turn this season into a success. The good news is that the Yellow Submarine have been pretty impressive in previous Europa League fixtures at El Madrigal, winning nine of last ten, defeating the likes of Napoli, Bayer Leverkusen and Villarreal in the process.
Star striker Roberto Soldado has resumed training after a six-month absence, but he will need at least a couple of weeks before he returns into contention.
It’s been a while since AS Roma last challenged for major honours, and the club supporters are eagerly awaiting to see whether their beloved side will have something to show at the end of what is a very promising season. The Giallorossi have been absolutely amazing on domestic stage, climbing to second in the overall standings and the return of 53 points from 24 matches has got to be applauded despite the fact that they, nonetheless, trail leaders Juventus 7 points. While the likes of Mohamed Salah, Radja Nainggolan, Diego Perotti and others have also been pulling their weight, it is Edin Dzeko who has been the team’s star performer this term, bagging no fewer than 18 goals in 24 league matches. The Bosnian has more than made amends for a somewhat slower start to his career at Stadio Olimpico and is now back to striking fear into opposition defenders. It remains to be seen whether Dzeko will feature at El Madrigal as Luciano Spalletti can be expected to shuffle his pack and rest some key men ahead of the weekend’s clash against Torino, with veteran forward Francesco Totti likely to play a part.
Francesco Totti and Thomas Vermaelen have made the squad after recovering from injury, but Alessandro Florenzi has suffered a new knee injury and he is out.
Key Factors to Consider
- Villarreal won 9 of last 10 Europa League fixtures at home
- AS Roma kept 9 clean sheets in last 13 games
- They won three of last four away fixtures without conceding
- Luciano Spalletti is widely expected to rest his key men
- Villarreal and AS Roma have never met before
Villarreal are going through a very rough patch at the moment, but with Fran Escriba set to field a strong side on Thursday, the Yellow Submarine should be able to avoid defeat. AS Roma will be missing some star players, but they can be trusted to secure a share of spoils at El Madrigal.
Best Odds: 23/10
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