Both teams have done remarkably well to reach the Europa League semi-finals, so we can safely say that the team that win this tie should be considered the favourites in the competition final. Porto hammered Spartak Moscow 10:3 on aggregate in the last round, whereas Villarreal did the same against Twente by winning 8:2 on aggregate, which goes to show how impressive the two sides were in the quarter-finals.
Porto just keep winning
Porto have continuously played a major role in European competitions ever since they won the Champions League title with Jose Mourinho, but the standard of team’s performances have never been higher than under talented Andre Villas-Boas. The Dragons have clinched the Liga Sagres title with five rounds to go, whereas their showings in the Europa League have been nothing short of amazing. Apart from the home defeat to Sevilla and the draw against Besiktas, Porto have won every other European game this season, most of them with few goals to spare. The mere fact that the Dragons scored at least two goals in every one of their last nine games is nothing surprising when we take into account that Falcao, Hulk and Varela usually form the attacking trident. The 3:1 away win over Benfica that brought the team Taca de Portugal title after they lost the first match at home 2:0 is the perfect testament of team’s current form.
Fernando Belluschi and Jorge Fucile are out with injuries, while Varela, James Rodriguez and Christian Rodriguez are vying for the third place in attacking alongside impressive Falcao and Hulk.
Can Villarreal stop Porto?
After almost tasting European success some five years ago when they almost reached the Champions League final, Villarreal have only had one dream – to win a European title. While the Yellow Submarine are still not ready to match the best sides in Europe, they have proved to be more than good enough for the Europa League title and are now just few steps away. Villarreal fully deserved the semi-final spot having eliminated some very good sides along the way, namely Napoli, Bayer Leverkusen and Twente, but there is no doubt Juan Carlos Garrido’s side face a very tough task against high-flying Porto. Not even the most optimistic of Villarreal fans can hope their team will keep a clean sheet against free-scoring Porto, meaning that the Yellow Submarine will have to score at Dragao in order to record a good result before the return leg. That shouldn’t be such a big problem with Rossi, Nilmar and Cazorla in the side.
Marcos Senna has recovered from a knee injury, but he missed out on the squad due to the lack of match fitness, whereas Xavi Oliva, Gonzalo Rodriguez and Angel Lopez remain long-term casualties.
Porto are the hot favourites to win this game and having been scoring goals for fun this season, the Dragons look likely to bag a few against Villarreal as well. The Spaniards are aware they will have to score at Dragao to keep this tie alive and they definitely have the quality to do so. Therefore, my advice is to bet on over 2.5 goals.
Our prediction: Over 2.5 goals
Odds: 1.91 (10/11)
Bookmaker: William Hill