Villarreal travel to the capital of the Czech Republic this evening to face Sparta Prague in the second-leg of their Europa League quarter-final match.
Despite going into the tie with a 2-1 aggregate lead, the La Liga side will be cautious of Sparta’s threat, and the away goal they conceded will frustrate coach Marcelino.
There doesn’t appear to be too many holes in the Yellow Submarine this season, with the Spanish side currently sitting fourth in the La Liga, 8 points ahead of Celta Vigo.
And they’re favourites to win the tie tonight and secure passage to the last-four of the Europa League. Their current form has been excellent, and they go into this game unbeaten in their last five games in all competitions, including their first-leg victory and their weekend win over Getafe in the league.
Their main attacking outlet this season has been French-born forward Cédric Bakambu, who is their top goalscorer including the seven goals he’s scored in the Europa League. He’s 11/8 to score any time tonight, and is a decent shout on current form.
But don’t underestimate Sparta; the Czech side have been the dark horse of the competition this season, going further than many expected and pulling off some surprise results.
Their 3-0 victory over Lazio in Rome a month ago was particularly impressive, while they remain unbeaten in all six of their European home games this season. With the important away goal they scored a week ago, they may fancy their chances of going through to the semis. They’re 3/1 odds to progress.
Veteran forward David Lafata was left on the bench in the first-leg, but the top goalscorer should start this evening as they look to grab a goal (or two). He’s scored five times in the Europa League this season and is 11/2 to score first tonight.
Still not sure? The safest bet is surely both teams to score at 8/11. Both sides will be eager to progress and have attacking pedigree. They’re also both in very good form, with Sparta having scored at least once in all 15 of their European matches this season, and Villarreal remaining unbeaten in their last 10 Europa League fixtures. One thing you can expect though, is a terrific atmosphere at the Generali Arena.
(images from: Sports Mole & Gazzetta)