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Prediction: Villarreal vs Monaco

Verdict: Monaco not to lose

Best Odds: 8/11

Bookmaker: William Hill

Spanish La Liga high flyers Villarreal are in all sorts of problems ahead of the decisive Champions League tie against Monaco, meaning the Yellow Submarine will have to work hard if they want to make it to the group stage. The Principality club, on the other hand, are close to full strength and they will be looking to record a positive result at El Madrigal.

Villarreal

One season spent in the second division appears to have had no effect on Villarreal’s fortunes, as the Yellow Submarine quickly returned to where they belong, finishing the previous La Liga campaign behind title contenders Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. However, the club have experienced plenty of problems at the start of the new season, and the fact they were pitted against very good Monaco side was the least of their worries. Namely, long-serving coach Marcelino Garcia Toral resigned just days ahead of the Champions League play-offs after clashing with the club board and several high-profile players, with Fran Escriba brought to replace him. The new boss will be missing quite a few first team footballers in the first leg against Monaco, which is going to seriously damage his side’s chances of winning the game at El Madrigal. Villarreal have made some decent signings this summer as the likes of Denis Cheryshev, Alfred N’Diaye, Alexandre Pato, Roberto Soriano, Nicola Sansone, Cristian Espinoza and Rafael Borre all joined, while Eric Bailly, Denis Suarez and Samu Garcia left the club. This means Fran Escriba will have some rebuilding to do, but the lack of time could prove a major issue.

Team News

Summer recruit Nicola Sansone and Victor Ruiz are both banned, while Jonathan Dos Santos will miss three weeks of action through a muscle injury.

Roberto Soldado and Denis Cheryshev are long-term casualties, whereas star striker Cedric Bakambu is unavailable as well.

Monaco

After seeing that heavy investment in the playing squad has failed to pay off, Monaco owner Dmitry Rybolovlev decided to make a U-turn in the transfer strategy and that proved to be a great move. The Principality club got rid of all high earners and instead invested in a plethora of talented players with plenty of potential, while at the same time keeping the results at a respectable level. Last season, Monaco were eliminated by Valencia in the qualifying stages, but they showed improvement this term and earned a clash with Villarreal after recording a 4-3 aggregate win over Fenerbahce. There haven’t been too many changes to the playing squad over the summer, although they did sign Kamil Glik, Morgan De Sanctis, Djibril Sidibe and Benjamin Mendy, while Jeremy Toulalan and Wallace were among those to leave. The return of Radamel Falcao was also seen as a major boost, especially as the Colombian had a key role to play in the victory over Fenerbahce, but he has unfortunately since picked up a thigh injury and is expected to miss both legs of the Villarreal tie.

Team News

Guido Carrillo and Valere Germain are expected to form the attacking partnership in the absence of Radamel Falcao, while Joao Moutinho and Bernardo Silva could be left on the bench as they lack match fitness.

Full-back Djibril Sidibe is rated doubtful after suffering an injury in the 2-2 draw with Guingamp, whereas youngster Kylian Mbappe will be assessed as he recovers from concussion.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Villarreal missing six important players
  • The two teams have never met before
  • Villarreal boast 2-2-0 record against French sides
  • Monaco lost 7 of 9 matches played in Spain (W1 D1)
  • Both teams scored in each of Monaco’s last three away CL games

Conclusion

This will be Villarreal’s first competitive match of the season and with quite a few star players missing, the Yellow Submarine could find it hard to match their opponents. Meanwhile, Monaco appear to be in good shape already and we are backing them to avoid defeat at El Madrigal.

Verdict: Monaco not to lose

Best Odds: 8/11

Bookmaker: William Hill

Tue 16 Aug, 2016
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