Tag Archives: Villarreal

Villarreal vs Juventus – Champions League Last 16 predictions

The Champions League last 16 fixtures are finally upon us after a two month break since the group stages.

In an intriguing tie we’ll see the Europa League holders Villarreal take on Serie A giants Juventus, who have just bolstered their squad with a £66 million striker in Dusan Vlahovic during January.

Lets take a look at the tie in more detail and make our predictions to see who will progress into the last eight of Europe’s most prestigious cup competition.



Route to the last 16

La Liga outfit Villarreal were able to secure their path into the knockout stages after pipping Atalanta to the runners-up spot in their group.

Unai Emery’s side suffered defeats home and away to Manchester United, but went undefeated beyond that and had their place confirmed prior to the final group game.

Juventus on the other hand were able to clinch top spot thanks to a 1-0 win over Malmo in their final group game, while Chelsea were held by Zenit.

Max Allegri’s team earned five wins from their six games, but it was a 4-0 thumping at the hands of Thomas Tuchel’s Blues that will give Emery’s side confidence heading into the final game.

Team news

Villarreal will be without their top scorer Gerard Moreno for the game, while Francis Coquelin and Ruben Pena will also miss the game. January signing Giovanni Lo Celso is a doubt, while Etienne Capoue is also expected to be racing against time to be available.

Arnaut Danjuma has been one of the stand out players for the Yellow Submarine so far this season, and his performances have seen him ear-marked as the true danger man for Juventus to deal with.

Juventus welcome Vlahovic to Europe’s elite competition for the first time in his career after his big money move from Fiorentina, and he should start.

Paulo Dybala is expected to miss the game, while Federico Chiesa is out for the rest of the season with an ACL tear. Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci will miss the game, which will likely see Danilo partner Matthijs De Ligt in the heart of defence.

Breakdown and Prediction

This is a game that will be decided by who plays less badly over the two legs, because neither team are particularly good right now.

Villarreal will be sturdy off the ball with their setup there to contain Juventus and pick them off on the counter with Danjuma’s pace.

Juventus are trying to become a ball dominant side who can sustain attacks and apply constant pressure to their opposition, but they’re in shocking form and really struggling this season.

Neither team have much chance of doing big things in this tournament this season, but in a game likely to be close you’d have to make the assumption that individual quality will make a difference.

Ultimately, the goals of Vlahovic will likely prove vital in this tie and the home tie back in Turin for the second leg should see Juventus qualify – just.

Villarreal 1-1 Juventus
Juventus 2-1 Villarreal
(Juventus to qualify 3-2 on aggregate)

Full redrawn Champions League Last 16 draw – Fixtures and dates

The UEFA Champions League last 16 draw has been re-drawn after a botched attempt on Monday morning, and has thrown up some cracking ties.

At the second attempt of trying, Manchester United were drawn with Spanish champions Atletico Madrid while Real Madrid will take on Paris Saint-Germain in the tie of the round.

Manchester City will face Sporting CP, while Liverpool take on Inter Milan. Chelsea were the winners of the redraw, keeping their original opponents in Ligue 1’s Lille.



The original draw saw Manchester United once again set to face off against Paris Saint-Germain, with Cristiano Ronaldo to go head-to-head with Lionel Messi once again in the tie of the round.

Atletico Madrid were scheduled to take on Bayern Munich in the other mega tie, while the other English sides would have been happy with their draws as Liverpool faced Salzburg, Man City faced Villarreal.

However UEFA accidentally put Manchester United into the pot to be drawn against Villarreal and then they were selected, despite being ineligible to do so having come from the same group.

United then weren’t put into the pot for the potential opponents of Atletico amid the confusion, meaning they could never have been drawn against each other.

The draw will now be re-done at 14:00 UK time after several complaints that the botched draw affected the integrity of the competition going forward.

The fixtures will take place in February, with the first legs taking place on February 15/16 or 22/23 with the second legs taking place on March 8/9 or 15/16. Group winners will play their home game in the second leg.

Full draw and fixture dates:

FC Salzburg vs Bayern Munich – February 16th 2022
Bayern Munich vs FC Salzburg – March 8th 2022

Sporting CP vs Manchester City – February 15th 2022
Manchester City vs Sporting CP – March 9th 2022

SL Benfica vs Ajax – February 23rd 2022
Ajax vs SL Benfica – March 15th 2022

Chelsea vs Lille – February 22nd 2022
Lille vs Chelsea – March 16th 2022

Atletico Madrid vs Manchester United – February 23rd 2022
Manchester United vs Atletico Madrid – March 15th 2022

Villarreal vs Juventus – February 22nd 2022
Juventus vs Villarreal – March 16th 2022

Inter Milan vs Liverpool – February 16th 2022
Liverpool vs Inter Milan – March 8th 2022

Paris Saint-Germain vs Real Madrid – February 15th 2022
Real Madrid vs Paris Saint-Germain – March 9th 2022

Villarreal vs Manchester United – Europa League final prediction

The end of a long, tumultuous club campaign is finally upon us as we enter European cup final week, starting with the Europa League.

Unai Emery’s Villarreal look to secure themselves Champions League qualification for next season when they take on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United, who are looking to earn their first trophy together with the former player at the helm.

Emery has won the competition three times previously, all with Sevilla, while he also made the final in 2019 as manager of Arsenal although they lost 4-1 to Chelsea. United on the other hand are reaching their first final in any competition since losing the FA Cup final to Chelsea in 2018 and will look to win their first trophy since winning the Europa League in 2017 under Jose Mourinho.

Villarreal made it to the final unbeaten in the competition throughout, winning 11 of their 14 games so far this season. They’ve showed some great attacking flair, scoring 27 goals but have also been able to shut up shop when necessary and defend well, conceding just eight times.

They were able to skip past Arsenal will relative ease in the semi-finals, winning the home tie before keeping a clean sheet in a goalless draw at the Emirates to secure their path to Gdansk, with Emery switching up his approach for each game.

Manchester United only entered the tournament at the knockout stages after crashing out of the Champions League before Christmas. They’ve had a pretty tough run of it too, but were able to comfortably navigate their way to the final with aggregate wins over Real Sociedad, AC Milan, Granada and Roma.

United have scored 18 times in the Europa League this season in just eight games, and had conceded just once before the semi-final affair with Roma which saw them win 8-5 on aggregate.

They’ve been the favourites since dropping down into the tournament and have lived up to that tag well, controlling all the ties they’ve been part of for the vast majority of the time on the pitch.

Solskjaer’s side essentially picks itself at the moment. Harry Maguire’s injury is the biggest question mark, because if he is unavailable then the decision must be made about whether to start the more experienced Eric Bailly or the in-form Axel Tuanzebe alongside Victor Lindelof.

It seems almost certain that he’ll continue with his favoured McFred combination in midfield, which means Paul Pogba will start in one of the wide positions again. Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes are almost sure to start, which means the final spot comes down to whether Mason Greenwood or Edinson Cavani will start up front – with my money going on ‘El Matador’.

Emery’s team selection is a bit more fluid, depending on what type of approach he chooses to take. Winger Samuel Chukwueze is expected to be fit enough to at least be on the bench but whether the manager chooses to go with a more defensive approach could decide the rest of his midfield.

He’s likely to opt to sit back and force United to try and break them down, something they have notoriously struggled with under Ole’s tenure at the club.

With that said though, Solskjaer has managed to build the strongest team that United have had since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement and they’re best placed to win the competition. They have the better individual players, are in better form and even without Maguire they should be good enough to hold strong defensively.

It will likely be a very cagey affair, with not many goals unless someone can score early on. But I can’t see past Manchester United getting the victory with the added quality they have and it’ll likely be that man Fernandes to pop up with the winner.


PREDICTION
Villarreal 0-1 Manchester United

Arsenal dumped out of Europe as Manchester United get to the final

Arsenal were dumped out of the Europa League at the semi-final stage by former manager Unai Emery’s Villarreal side to set up a final in Gdansk against Manchester United.

The Gunners came into the game knowing they had to win after losing the first leg 2-1 and Mikel Arteta set the team up with a five-at-the-back formation that was troubled before the game even started, with Granit Xhaka getting injured in the warm up.

Kieran Tierney came in but Arsenal struggled throughout, having just two shots on target in the 90 minutes as they were held to a 0-0 draw and dumped out of the tournament.

Villarreal remain unbeaten throughout the tournament so far and Emery has now made it to a record five Europa League finals, after winning three-in-a-row with Sevilla before losing in the final to Chelsea as Arsenal manager in 2019.

They will now face Manchester United in the final who’s first leg 6-2 win was enough to see them through as they lost 3-2 on the night in Rome and saw off a little scare.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was able to get to his first final as manager of the club and he named a strong team on the night despite the club being set to play four games in seven days prior to kick off. Edinson Cavani gave the Reds the lead to settle any nerves, but Roma scored two goals in very quick succession to give themselves hope.

Cavani scored once again to wrap up progression, although Roma scored once more to earn themselves a win when youngster Nicola Zalewski’s strike came off Alex Telles and went through David De Gea’s legs.

Despite that, United showed they were the better team throughout the two legs and can finally put the ridiculous semi-final curse under Solskjaer behind them.

Arsenal must now really consider their future, as they face having no European football whatsoever next season for the first time in 25 years. The club are currently sat in ninth place and unless they can make up a five point swing over Liverpool, who have played a game less, in four games then they will be without.

Arteta was a gamble at the time of his appointment and it is one that has failed. Despite winning the FA Cup in his first season, he has accumulated just 49 points in 34 games and this season has failed to make it to a final of any cup competition.

The Gunners look totally incapable of being a genuine threat against teams who have any sort of clue what they’re doing and are always open to an error or three at the back to allow teams to punish them.

Fans have now turned on him and with the atmosphere at the club already volatile with fans against the owners, it seems unlikely that he’ll be able to ride this storm out once again and make it to next season.

Manchester United on the other hand will be favourites going into the final in Poland, with the better players and team than Villarreal but Emery’s experience in winning this competition will prove vital without a doubt.

United do have weaknesses in the way they play and Emery will undoubtedly look to expose those issues to help the Spanish side win the first European trophy in their history.

In a fun coincidence the final will be played on May 26th, the same date that Solskjaer famously scored the winning goal in the UEFA Champions League final back in 1999 as the Red Devils won the treble.

Villarreal vs Arsenal – Europa League semi-final prediction

The Europa League is down to its final four teams and there are some very intriguing ties to be played out to decipher who will lift the trophy come the end of the season.

Premier League side Manchester United will take on Serie A side AS Roma as the two remaining strongest teams in the competition, with Arsenal going head-to-head against their former manager when they take on Villarreal.

We’ll preview both knockout ties once again and give our predictions as we have done for every English club tie in the competition so far, starting with Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal side taking on former boss Unai Emery’s new team with his Europa League prowess in full flow again.

The La Liga side went through the group stages of the tournament unbeaten, winning five of the six games and conceding just five goals. They were able to finish above Maccabi Tel-Aviv, Sivasspor and Qarabag before being drawn against RB Salzburg in the last 32 of the competition.

They dispatched of the Austrian side winning both home and away, before also beating Dynamo Kyiv 2-0 both home and away to set up a quarter-final tie against Dinamo Zagreb. Emery’s side then won both legs of that tie against the Croatian side, to maintain an unbeaten record throughout the tournament so far this season.

Unai Emery has won the tournament three times before, winning a hat-trick with Sevilla between 2014 and 2016. He also reached the final as manager of the Gunners back in 2019, but they were thumped 4-1 by Chelsea in the final.

He was sacked the following season, allowing for Arteta to take over the reigns where he has struggled to find any sort of consistent form since.

This season he was able to navigate the group stages with relative ease, coming through a group containing Dundalk, Molde and Rapid Wien with six wins from six games. They then took on Benfica in the round of 32 and managed to progress thanks to a late winner from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the second leg, before a last 16 tie against Olympiacos saw them win the home leg 3-1 meaning the 1-0 home defeat still saw them progress.

They then faced off with Slavia Prague in the quarter-finals, where they drew 1-1 at the Emirates Stadium before a thumping 4-0 win in Prague got them to this stage.

Domestically, both sides have had differing seasons too. Villarreal currently sit in seventh place with 49 points from 33 games having lost three of their last four games, while Arsenal sit in tenth in the Premier League with 46 points from 33 games. For both teams this is their final chance at claiming a Champions League place for next season, while for Arsenal it could be their only hope at European football at all.

Arsenal have the better players individually, but Arteta has really struggled to get them playing to their capabilities. Emery has mastered this competition and Villarreal’s undefeated run to this point certainly makes them favourites in my books.

Gerard Moreno is a goalscoring machine this season with 20 in all competitions and with Dani Parejo, Samuel Chukwueze and Paco Alcacer all among the supporting cast they have enough quality to punish Arsenal.

The first game being in Spain is a big advantage to Arsenal since they’ll be at home for the second leg and know what needs to be done to secure qualification, but even still I expect Emery to be able to find the weaknesses in the Gunners side and expose them enough to secure yet another Europa League final.


PREDICTION

Villarreal 2-1 Arsenal
Arsenal 1-1 Villarreal
(Villarreal to progress 3-2 on aggregate)