Less than 72 hours after the last-gasp goal by Stephane M’Bia secured progress into the Europa League final, Sevilla play host to Villarreal with the sole aim of cementing the fifth place in the league standings. The Yellow Submarine need just few more points to secure European qualification and they plan to finish the job at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
Running on empty
Sevilla have been exceeding expectations throughout the season and no doubt this campaign will be considered a huge success. Los Rojiblancos ultimately failed to mount a serious top 4 challenge in La Liga, but they will be quite satisfied with yet another European qualification, while they have also earned a chance to fight for their third Europa League trophy. Unai Emery’s side have been pretty impressive on the road to the final, but they almost ruined all the hard work with a dismal performance in the return leg against Valencia. Despite holding a two-goal lead from the first match, Sevilla were completely outclassed by los Che and were on the verge of elimination having conceded three goals at Mestalla. However, Stephane M’Bia then scored the decisive goal in injury time to book a ticket for the final in Turin. Nevertheless, team’s performances at San Mames and Mestalla proved the players are running on empty following a very demanding season, with even Unai Emery admitting that a number of his star footballers are suffering from exhaustion. And with the team no longer in the race for a top 4 finish in the league, the lack of motivation is also going to be an issue against Villarreal.
The boss has no fresh injury worries, but he is almost certain to rest several star players after the difficult match at Mestalla.
Costly defensive lapses
Villarreal did well to return to the elite division after spending just one campaign in Segunda and the team immediately managed to mount a challenge for Europa League positions. The Yellow Submarine were even in the race for top 4 places up until recently, but several injuries to star players took the wind out of their sails. Nevertheless, with three games to go, Villarreal occupy the final Europa League berth and sit seven points clear of eighth-placed Valencia, meaning they should have no problems clinching European qualification. And while the team haven’t been too impressive of late, especially on the travels, the game against Barcelona proved the Yellow Submarine can still mix it up with the best of them in La Liga. Villarreal produced a very good performance to create a two-goal lead against the reigning champions, but two shocking own goals changed the course of the game and eventually helped Barcelona record a 3-2 win. But, with important players Cani and Dos Santos back to the side and players buoyed by the good showing against the Catalans, Villarreal should be able to profit from their opponents’ tired legs and take at least one point from Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
Ikechukwu Uche has returned into action, but Jeremy Perbet, Tomas Pina and Trigueros are all unavailable for the Sevilla game.
Tired legs are proving to be a major issue for Sevilla, who have now been soundly beaten in last two matches, and another poor result appears on the cards. Villarreal will have had full week to prepare for the clash at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, and they might just record a rare away win here.
Top pick: Villarreal not to lose 2.10 (11/10) @ bet365
Alternative pick 1: Both teams to score 1.66 (2/3) @ Betfair
Alternative pick 2: Away win 5.00 (4/1) @ Coral