Injury-hit La Liga side Villarreal have a huge deficit to overturn in the second leg of their Europa League Last 32 tie against Lyon if they are to progress any further in this competition.
Injuries Pile On…
Four wins following a draw against Deportivo La Coruna at the beginning of 2018 made life much easier for Villarreal who even celebrated a huge 1-0 victory at Real Madrid as part of their January winning stretch in La Liga.
The beginning of February, however, brought a change in fortunes for the Yellow Submarine as Javier Calleja Revilla’s charges embarked on a three-match losing run – including a 3-1 beating by Lyon in the first leg of their Europa League Last 32 tie. No points in three successive La Liga matches saw Villarreal lose pace in the top-four race, currently siting sixth in the La Liga standings, seven points adrift from Real Madrid in fourth. Revilla’s men managed to end the losing streak last time out at Espanyol with a hard-fought 1-1 draw and will now have to face on an important Europa League challenge which stands tall as a mountain in front the Yellow Submarine.
The squad situation is making life even more difficult for the hosts knowing that Andres Fernandez, Nicola Sansone, Leonardo Suarez, Bruno and Ramiro Guerra are all sidelined with injuries whereas the influential defender Ruben Semedo is out of contention due to the latest ugly developments which saw him confess to kidnapping, beating, tying up and robbing a man.
After a largely uneventful first half at Parc Olympique Lyonnais last week, the hosts pushed up the pedal to hit Villarreal with a quickfire double courtesy of Tanguy Ndombele and Arsenal target Nabil Fekir, who scored minutes apart at the beginning of the second term.
Manchester United flop Memphis Depay scored the third goal with eight minutes on the clock to seal the deal for the hosts and earn them an important advantage ahead of the trip to Spain. Villarreal will now be keen to hold on to the lead and hope to find a more consistent pace, having alternating between wins and defeats in February. Three defeats in their last six matches is not the best of signs for a side that’s won ten games against Spanish teams and lost eight times on Spanish soil in their 31 games. Lyon are coming off from a 2-2 draw at Lille last weekend which saw manager Galtier rest his first-team stars Nabil Fekir, Houssem Aouar and Marcelo. The trio is expected to return to the starting fold.
Kenny Tete was deemed injured last weekend but should make a timely recovery, together with Maxwel Cornet who is expected to be in contention. Defender Fernando Marcal will have to sit through the game due to his yellow card suspension.
Villarreal are going through a difficult spell over the past month and will face a struggle to overturn a two-goal deficit from the first leg. An away goal offers some hope, however, and the Yellow Submarine is not expected to go down without a fight. Lyon are expected to pull back a bit and sit on it, waiting for a chance to push forward from a counter and we definitely expect to see goals on both ends once again.
Top pick: Both teams to score – Yes 1.62 (8/13) @Betfair
Alternative pick 1: Draw no Bet – Lyon 2.63 (13/8) @888sport
Alternative pick 2: Over 2.5 goals 1.62 (8/13) @BetVictor