Zenit vs Villarreal Europa League Predictions

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

The match is over.
Score: 1-3.

Russian Premier League leaders Zenit host La Liga strugglers Villarreal in the last 16 of the Europa League.

Predictions

Two teams with differing domestic fortunes meet for a place in the Europa League’s quarter-final stage, as Zenit hold a three-point lead at the top of their table, while Villarreal fight against relegation to Spain’s second tier.

Zenit needed a second leg comeback against Fenerbahce to book their place in the last 16 after losing the first leg in Turkey 1-0. A 3-1 home win put Sergei Semak’s side in the draw and maintained Zenit’s strong home form – a pre-winter break defeat to Rubin Kazan was Zenit’s first home defeat since April 2018.

With that in mind, a draw would probably be a good result for Javier Calleja’s sinking Yellow Submarine, but that would require a resolve distinctly lacking for much of Villarreal’s season so far. They’re far from off the pace domestically – just two points from safety – but Villarreal being anywhere near the bottom of La Liga is a shambolic situation regardless.

Villarreal showed what they were capable of with a 3-0 win over Sevilla in February, a result that really did overturn the bookies’ predictions, but they didn’t win any of the three games that followed, and the win at Sporting in the previous Europa League round was Villarreal’s first away success since late September.

A lot of those 13 games did end as draws and a score draw would do Villarreal nicely prior to the second leg at La Ceramica, and drawing is something Villarreal can do – they’ve recorded 11 in the league so far this season, and only Athletic Bilbao and Valencia have more to their name.

A score draw would tilt the tie in Villarreal’s favour but that may be asking too much. Zenit, strong at home, can win 1-0.

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Betting Tips

The first leg of Zenit’s tie with Fener ended with under 1.5 goals and while there were considerably more in the return leg, that was a game the Russians had to win. That’s not the dynamic here, and they can accept a tight win. 888Sport price under 1.5 goals at 41/20.

Iran international Sardar Azmoun scored two of Zenit’s three goals against Fener in the previous leg, endearing himself significantly to fans after his February move from Rubin Kazan. A genuine goalscorer, Azmoun is Zenit’s main threat. 888Sport price him at 15/8 to score anytime.

Statistics

Head to Head

Zenit and Villarreal met more than a decade ago, when the Europa League was still the UEFA Cup. They shared a home win each, 1-0 in Russia and 2-1 in Spain, Zenit progressing on away goals as they won the tournament that year.

 

Zenit ended the game in Spain with nine men, when Roman Shirokov and Radek Sirl were both sent off.

Stats

  • Villarreal topped Group G, despite winning only two games – Rapid Vienna, in second, won three games but missed out on top spot on the head-to-head record.
  • Villarreal have scored as many La Liga goals as fifth-place Alaves, 27 – only one fewer than Zenit’s domestic tally of 28.
  • Zenit’s Europa League campaign began in early August, in less than ideal circumstances – they lost 4-0 in the first leg of their qualifier with Dimano Minsk, but came back to win 8-1 in the second leg after extra time.
  • No team has played more Europa League games in the competition’s history than Villarreal’s 70.
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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