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Thread: Sevilla - Villarreal

More brooding, less shot-stopping. That's what we'd like, Javi Varas.
More brooding, less shot-stopping. That's what we'd like, Javi Varas.

A bad ground for Villarreal. More than one eye on Thursday's Europa League semifinal first leg at the Estádio do Dragão in Porto. A Champions League place hinging on our home form down the stretch.

Those are plausible rationalizations for a Villarreal slip-up this evening at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán in Seville. But I believe that Villarreal needs to make a statement against Sevilla FC.

Two main reasons:

1. Sevilla nearly knocked out FC Porto. The sides were drawn in the Europa League round of 32, and Porto advanced on away goals. Porto won 1-2 in Spain and lost 0-1 in Portugal. By comparison, the Portuguese side won both legs of the Europa League playoff, went 5-1-0 in the group stage, and swept all 4 legs in the knockout stage against Moscow rivals CSKA and Spartak.

2. Sevilla has what Villarreal wants. Villarreal has enjoyed a decade of success among the European elite. But the club is missing a major title to hang its hat on. Enter Sevilla's back-to-back UEFA Cup titles in 2005-06 and 2006-07, not to mention last season's Copa del Rey triumph. Our inaugural title is only 3 matches away.

A bonus reason: Sevilla, like Valencia, thinks that we are the nouveau riche upstarts of La Liga. Let's show them that the traditional order is a thing of the past.

My expected XI:

Diego López
Mario Gaspar - Mateo Musacchio - Carlos Marchena - José Manuel Catalá
Borja Valero - Bruno Soriano - Javier Matilla - Santi Cazorla
Nilmar - Giuseppe Rossi

With Marchena in back, expect another opportunity for Matilla alongside Bruno. Not too many options for manager Juan Carlos Garrido, unless either Catalá slides into the middle or Wakaso enters the midfield.

Prediction: The nervionenses are on the ropes. With health concerns in the wide positions and up front, our primary concern should be Álvaro Negredo. I think we can control him, so I will go for 1-2 to Villarreal, with Rossi on target. Endavant Villarreal!