Villarreal vs Sporting Europa League Predictions

Sam Watt
By: Sam Watt
Europa League Villarreal vs Sporting
Villarreal vs Sporting Europa League

The match is over.
Score: 1-1.

Villarreal defend their 1-0 first leg lead as they welcome Portuguese giants Sporting to La Ceramica in the Europa League.

Predictions

Alfonso Pedraza’s goal in the opening minutes of the first leg in Portugal did more than just give Villarreal a narrow lead for the return leg in Spain – it delivered a first victory in the whole of 2019, some two-and-a-half months and nine games into the New Year.

Indeed, the Yellow Submarine have been sinking fast but they rallied to grab an away goal against Sporting, who ended the tie with 10 men when Marcos Acuna was dismissed.

Sporting also had twice as many shots on goal as Villarreal, but struggled to really test Andres Fernandez in the visitors’ goal – only three of Sporting’s 11 efforts registered on target.

The question for Villarreal now is over their home record, as thus far in La Liga they’ve won only twice in front of their own fans. The first time was November but, more promisingly, they did beat Sevilla 3-0 on Saturday. Villarreal were at least unbeaten at La Ceramica in the Europa League group stages, drawing 2-2 with Rangers and beating Rapid Wien 5-0 and Spartak Moscow 2-0.

Sporting’s away form has been somewhat mixed in the Primeira Liga, winning four and losing four of their 10 games on the road thus far. In Europe, Marcel Keizer’s side recorded a 2-1 win at Vorskla, a goalless draw at Arsenal and an emphatic 6-1 trouncing of Qarabag, so they have the formula right on the continent at least.

If Sporting are to overturn the first leg deficit they’ll need Dutch striker Bas Dost to recover his form. Prolific on the whole this season, the defeat to Villarreal was nevertheless the third game in a row in which Dost has failed to net. Villarreal, meanwhile, don’t have a player anywhere near double figures for goals, so if they’re to go through it’ll be another low-scoring affair.

Bookies should keep that in mind, and so too Villarreal’s generally awful form this season as they battle La Liga relegation. That could lead to a Sporting comeback, with a 2-0 away win.

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Betting Tips

Villarreal have scored about a goal a game domestically this season, and while they did better than that in this competition’s group stages, 10 of their 12 goals came in four games against Spartak and Rapid. They’re far from prolific, especially against strong competition.

More than just to win the 90 minutes of the second leg, a bet on Sporting to qualify extends to extra time and penalties too. The first game was a tight affair and this could be as well, even going the distance.

Statistics

Head to Head

Last week’s first leg was the first-ever competitive meeting between Villarreal and Sporting.

Stats

  • Villarreal topped Group G while Sporting qualified second from Group E, but Sporting actually picked up more points than Villarreal – 13 to 12.
  • In fact, Villarreal finished ahead of Rapid despite only winning two group games compared to the Austrians’ three – they were top on the head-to-head record.
  • Neither Villarreal nor Sporting have ever won the Europa League, or its predecessor, the UEFA Cup. Villarreal are three-time semi-finalists – 2003-04, 2010-11 and 2015-16, while Sporting’s only European accolade is the 1964 European Cup Winners’ Cup.
  • Javier Calleja, in his second spell as Villarreal coach, made more than 100 appearances for the club as a player between 1999 and 2006.
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.

All Predictions by Sam Watt

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