Villareal vs Zenit Europa League Predictions

Sam Watt
By: Sam Watt
Europa League Villareal vs Zenit
Villareal vs Zenit Europa League

The match is over.
Score: 2-1.

Villarreal got a must-needed – and somewhat unexpected – boost by beating Zenit Saint-Petersburg in the first leg of their Europa League encounter. The question now is can they maintain that momentum?

Predictions

The Europa League has been the only real bright spot of Villarreal’s season. A campaign that has seen the Yellow Submarine fighting relegation has also produced a run to the latter stages of European competition, and beating Zenit 3-1 in Russia should go down as one of the standout achievements of the tournament.

Goals from Vicente Iborra, Gerard Moreno and Manu Morlanes have left Villarreal in a comfortable spot ahead of the second leg. But while it would take a monumental collapse for Javi Calleja’s side to be eliminated from this position, no one expected Villarreal to be near the foot of La Liga – or win the away leg so comprehensively in the first place.

So Villarreal can’t afford to take their foot off the pedal, not least because with little more than two months left of the season, they need a good run of form to ward off a return to the Segunda. Villarreal went to Levante at the weekend and won 2-0 with two late, late goals and a third straight win would suggest Villarreal are on the up. Not since April-May 2018 have Villarreal recorded three straight wins.

Zenit, meanwhile, came from behind to beat Ufa over the weekend and remain top of the Russia Premier League, with Krasnodar – who face Valencia in the Europa League – on their heels.

Sergi Semak’s side are no strangers to having to overturn a first leg deficit, having lost 1-0 to Fenerbahce in the first leg of the last round, only to win 3-1 in the return. But that second leg was at home, with the fierce Zenit fans roaring their team on, and they didn’t have three away goals to counteract either.

A clean sheet is crucial for Zenit but they might not get it – a 1-1 draw would see Villarreal through.

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Betting Tips

Zenit have a mountain to climb, and even if being top of their domestic league suggests they have more quality than the Primera Division strugglers, it’s probably going to be too much, and the sides will cancel each other out. 888Sport price a draw and both teams to score at 18/5.

A Zenit half time lead would really test Villarreal’s new-found mettle. But they’ve clawed out of La Liga’s bottom three now, and have safety – and Europa League progression – in sight. Zenit half time, full time draw is 13/1 at Unibet.

Statistics

Head to Head

Aside from the first leg, Villarreal and Zenit have met twice – Zenit won 1-0 in Russia and lost 2-1 in Spain to go through in the 2008 UEFA Cup on away goals.

Stats

  • Zenit had gone 23 Europa League games without defeat prior to the first leg.
  • Villarreal are in the Europa League for the fifth straight season, and have reached the knockout rounds each time.
  • Only Benfica and Villarreal have been in the Europa League’s Round of 32 as many times as Zenit – five.
  • Zenit have never won a two-legged fixture when losing the first leg at home.
Sam Watt
By: Sam Watt

Football manager is my life, but have taken up writing to help put all that knowledge playing the game to good use. Follow me for all things European football and gain unexpected knowledge about players and teams you didn't know before. When not playing football manager, I take a break to play with my Sunday League team.

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