Europa League: Roma v Villarreal Preview


Villareal will be looking to atone for their poor showing in the first leg against Roma when the sides meet at the Stadio Olimpico this Thursday evening.

What more can be said about the massacre last week? The sinking of the Yellow Submarine made for riveting if somewhat depressing viewing. It highlighted what many believe to be a resurgence in Italian football, but also effectively reduced this match to pure exhibition. There’s a distinct possibility - giving the various league travails facing both sides - that we could see a litany of changes made this week. Luciano Spalletti (who should win some award for the most Italian sounding name ever) will look to continue a sequence of home momentum that is bordering on imperious. Fran Escriba will be looking to salvage some pride ahead of an important week for the club.

Roma v Villarreal |  Thursday 23 February | Stadio Olimpico | 20:00

To Win (90 Mins)
Roma 7/10 | Draw 11/4 | Villareal 36/10

I’m fairly certain that top marksman Eden Dzeko will be giving the week off, allowing resident Italian dinosaur Francesco Totti the chance to extend his all-time Roma goal scoring record. The likes of Strootman and Nainggolan should also be rested ahead of an all-important match against Inter at the San Siro. Midfielder Alessandro Florenzi is out with a knee problem, while one could also expect Daniele De Rossi to be rested.
Roma have a 100% record at home in the league this season, and the score in their last five games reads an accumulative 16-2 in their favour. They will be looking to reassert the fact that Stadio Olimpico is now a fortress. I expect the likes of El Sharawy and Salah to be involved, lending them a lot of speed on the counter. I’m sure that they will feel confident - even at home - of absorbing anything that Villarreal has to offer.

Just to compound all of Roma’s positive juju at home, Villarreal have failed to find the back of the net in 45% of their away outings. They only have three victories out of 14 on the road, which should be encouraging to Spalletti. Villarreal also have the small matter of playing Real Madrid in La Liga next weekend, which is of vital importance to the Yellow Submarine as they sit six points behind the Champions League places. I expect Bruno and Dos Santos to certainly be rested, while Bakambu may make way for former Spurs man Roberto Soldado.

This is an interesting one for Escriba. He will want to regain a semblance of pride, and may just be able to achieve that with Roma likely to rest key players. But just how much are they willing to risk to garner pride? Expect Soldado to feature prominently as the pressure is lifted this week. This might be just the type of game he could relish. I think that Villarreal will look to show that they are a good footballing side that were on the end of something freakish last week.
Verdict: Double Chance - Draw + Villareal 21/20
I still think that Villarreal have the technically superior players in many departments. Last week they were just found tactically short of where they needed to be. With many of the top players from both sides likely to be missing, expect the Spanish side to salvage a little bit of pride this week.

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

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