The Europa League’s last 16 features an all-Spanish clash, and Kevin Hatchard thinks Villarreal’s strong home form can continue in an entertaining first leg against Sevilla.
Villarreal v Sevilla
Thursday March 11, 20:05
Live on BT Sport 2
The holders Sevilla are making a fine fist of retaining their Europa League crown. They beat a strong Borussia Monchengladbach side home and away in the last 32, and now Unai Emery’s men face an even bigger test against domestic rivals Villarreal.
The Yellow Submarine did well to dispose of Red Bull Salzburg 5-2 on aggregate, and they will hope their excellent recent home form can give them an edge ahead of a second-leg trip to the Sanchez Pizjuan. Villarreal have won 11 of their last 12 home games in all competitions, and their only failure in that sequence was a 3-1 home defeat to Barcelona in the Copa del Rey.
Sevilla are very much hit and miss on their travels. They have won six and lost seven of their La Liga away matches, and they failed to win on any of their three road trips in the group stage. They won 3-2 at Gladbach, but that was courtesy of a late winner against ten men who were chasing a lost cause.
In terms of early team news, Villarreal are without the suspended Tomas Pina and the injured Bruno, while former London nightlife aficionado Gio Dos Santos faces a late fitness test. Sevilla are without keeper Beto and on-loan Liverpool forward Iago Aspas because of injury.
There are two tempting avenues available to us here. The first is backing Over 2.5 Goals at 2.0811/10. That bet has paid out in eight of Villarreal’s ten Europa League games this season, and the other two matches featured two goals apiece. Looking more generally at Villarreal’s matches, they have seen six of their last ten games in all competitions contain at least three goals.
Sevilla’s recent away games have been laden with goals. Los Rojiblancos have seen their last seven road matches go over 2.5 goals, and five of those featured at least four goals. Outside of the top two in La Liga, Sevilla have scored more goals away from home than any other side in the Spanish top flight, but no-one in Spain’s top ten has conceded more often on their travels.
It’s also worth noting that the teams shared three goals when they met in Seville back in October, as Sevilla won 2-1. Indeed, there have been at least three goals in seven of the clubs’ last eight meetings.
The other route to profit is backing Villarreal to win the first leg at 2.1411/10. Although Sevilla have the knack of getting important results in this competition, they have lost five of their last seven away games, and Villarreal are incredibly strong at El Madrigal. The hosts have in-form forwards Gerard Moreno and Luciano Vietto fully fit and firing, and I think they’ll edge an entertaining encounter.
Back Over 2.5 Goals at 2.0811/10
Back Villarreal to win at 2.1411/10
2014/15 Europa League P/L (1pt per bet)
Points Staked: 63
Points Returned: 65.76
P/L: +2.76 points