Villarreal VS AS Roma Prediction
A Spanish-Italian battle that will take place at the 2016-17 UEFA Europa League 1/16 finals is definitely one of the most gripping matches on Thursday night, 16 February 2017. After part one of the Champions League 1/8 finals, the UEFA Europa League returns as well, when we have sixteen more games in different time zones on Thursday evening, one of them meeting Villarreal vs AS Roma.
H2H Stats: Villarreal vs AS Roma Villarreal and AS Roma do share a common history in UEFA’s second major competition, when both sides met thirteen years ago. Simple mathematical skills can calculate their previous fixtures were in the 2003-04 season when tournament was still known as the UEFA Cup. So we already had another two-legged duel between these two clubs but on later stage, since Villarreal and AS Roma were drawn to face each other in the 1/8 finals.
Europa League: Villarreal vs AS Roma 16.02.2017
Villarreal holds some good memories from its previous matchup against Roma not only because they were the winners, but from their campaign at all. The aforementioned 2003-04 UEFA Cup season was first ever breakthrough for Villarreal, who have emerged on major European football scene in first years of the 21st century. At the same year, spring of 2004, they have reached the UEFA semi-finals where they lost to regional rivals and future champions Valencia.
For more than a decade “The Yellow Submarine” turned into a regular competitor in UEFA competitions and also gained considerable experience. As a club coming from small city in the province of Castellón, Villarreal lives with all emotions of football and can boast with some great results in that period. In the meantime Fran Escriba’s men are doing relatively well in Spanish La Liga where they currently find themselves on the sixth position, being on six points behind Atletico Madrid (4th). Well, alright, new 2017 is not going so fine for Villarreal as they have won just once in all 8 games and that was a 2-0 win over struggling Granada at home. With five draws in eight matches we can also note that Villarreal hardly lose and “The Yellow Submarine” can be extremely tough opposition, especially when you are a team that has to beat them.
AS Roma is in a much better form than of Villarreal but “The Giallorossi” remain in shadow of reigning champion Juventus. Despite all efforts in last few seasons, Roma still can’t be competitive enough to “The Old Lady” from Turin and that’s what makes the Serie A very predictable.
Moreover, Roma finished behind Juventus and Napoli at the end of season 2015-16 and Luciano Spalletti’s men had to fight for the third Italian Champions League spot through the qualifiers. Likewise Villarreal, Roma suffered a defeat in a two-legged tie against FC Porto and “The Giallorossi” went into the 2016-17 Europa League group phase draw.
AS Roma were drawn in Group E where they have not met serious opposition and finished undefeated on top – with three wins and three draws. “The Wolves” scored four goals in each victory and this made them one of the very resultative sides in the group phase – scoring overall amount of 16 goals in six games. Five of them were netted by Bosnian striker Edin Dzeko.
Match Preview: Team News, Squads and Missing Players
After finishing fourth at the end of season 2015-16, Villarreal surely regrets about a missed opportunity chance to qualify in the UEFA Champions League groups and that was kind of a disappointment. Fran Escriba’s men were waiting five years for that moment but they have lost to AS Monaco in the qualifying, so now they must concentrate on the Europa League perspectives.
Months ago Villarreal, under Marcelino García Toral’s management, lost to Liverpool in the 2015-16 Europa League semi-finals. Now skipper of “The Yellow Submarine” is Fran Escriba and he is eager to leave a mark.
In fact, last season’s accomplishment was the fourth semi-final in any of both UEFA competitions for Villarreal and this sets the bar really high. Unfortunately, Villarreal have lost in all those deciders and this makes the dream of reaching a final even more tempting.
Fran Escriba can enter into this clash with a good squad depth as he already made some rotations in the group stage, when Villarreal used different players in La Liga and Europa League games. However, “The Yellow Submarine” is already in a face-to-face battle with its opposition and Fran Escriba should secure leading positions to best available crew members.
Striker Roberto Soldado is the only player unavailable for the home side and we must mention about Alexandre Pato’s winter transfer. Pato became one of the footballers who have joined the Chinese Super League as he signed with a club led by former Italian defender Fabio Cannavaro – Tianjin Quanjian. Thus Fran Escriba cannot rely on two players with certain experience, but attackers Adrian Lopez, Cedric Bakambu and Rafael Santos Borré are all eager for first-team football.
In midfield Villarreal is expected to start with a typical quartet including names of captain Bruno Soriano and left winger Roberto Soriano. Both had different contribution to the team when last weekend Villarreal slipped against Málaga (1-1) at home – latter has been sent-off, whilst minutes before that Bruno Soriano leveled the score from a penalty. Possible rotation in midfield is very likely on the right flank where Jonathan dos Santos and Samu Castillejo can either be good options.
Anticipated changes in Villarreal’s formation are most likely in defense where Jaume Costa may return on the left-back, since he has been replaced by Jose Angel in past few weeks. Argentine central defender Mateo Musacchio is also ready to feature for the first time after a home draw against Barcelona early in January, as a possible replacement of Alvaro Gonzalez. Vice-captain Mario Gaspar may also make a way to experienced Serb defender Antonio Rukavina, who gets more chance in the Europa League. Even the second goalkeeper Andres Fernandez is potential option to start between the sticks, if Fran Escriba decides to rest Sergio Asenjo.
On other hand, compared to current shape of the Spanish side, Roma finds in a superb form and covers distance from around 1,100km to Villarreal with three wins in a row. Guests from Rome can boast with a stunning record of eight victories in their last 9 games, but their only defeat in that period (3-2 against Sampdoria) can be crucial to their Scudetto hopes. A defeat that leaves the gap between Juve and Roma seven points and even if we consider Roma takes on the Bianconeri in closing days of the season, we all know how stable Juventus is in the Calcio.
All these results doesn’t mean Luciano Spalletti must expel ambition for winning Serie A from his tasks, but he probably realized it requires a flawless run and at the same time Juventus should lose few times.
Another good argument why Roma must put more effort on their international commitment and Italians travel for Spain with a group of 21-man. The group includes all best players and living legend of Roma and Italian football Francesco Totti, who recovered from illness.
Alessandro Florenzi continues his rehabilitation after knee surgery and this makes him the only senior player who’s unavailable.
Luciano Spalletti may leave some main players on the bench, which doesn’t mean he won’t name a strong squad. Italians prepare for a tricky challenge against Torino on Sunday evening and Spalletti would be tempted to ensure first-team opportunity to names of Alisson, Thomas Vermaelen, Juan Jesus, Leandro Paredes and Gerson. Presence of these names hints for a fusion between proven key players (Radja Nainggolan, Mohamed Salah and Edin Dzeko) and some ambitious youngsters up front (midfield & attack).
Betting Prediction and Possible Lineups
Villarreal will pull their best effort with purpose to benefit from their home advantage with a main purpose to repeat same score as 13 years ago. This means a victory with keeping a clean sheet.
The Yellow Submarine have only two defeats in 14 matches but their main struggle is to turn draws into wins. Giving their best to change that before traveling to Rome could be a great step to the 1/8 finals, since we all know how dangerous Villarreal can be on counters. Especially when they can capture a team with shaky defense.
With all our respect, Roma looks really pacey and sharp with their attacking players. Not to mention the long-shots ability they have. But their defensive line can be really weak when it’s put on higher pressure and we will be surprised if they don’t concede in Spain. Although Roma have kept a clean sheet in five of their last seven away matches.
We fancy odds on “Both teams to score – Yes” and this goes into our betting slip. Villarreal and AS Roma will both score on Thursday evening.
Venue: “Estadio de la Cerámica”, Villarreal.
Referee: Danny Makkelie from the Netherlands.
Possible Lineups of Villarreal and AS Roma
Villarreal CF: Sergio Asenjo – Jaume Costa, Victor Ruiz, Mateo Musacchio, Antonio Rukavina – Roberto Soriano, Bruno Soriano, Manu Trigueros, Samu Castillejo – Cedric Bakambu, Adrian Lopez. (4-4-2)
AS Roma: Alisson Becker – Bruno Peres, Federico Fazio, Thomas Vermaelen, Juan Jesus – Radja Nainggolan, Leandro Paredes – Mohamed Salah, Gerson, Stephan El Shaarawy – Edin Dzeko. (4-2-3-1)