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Thread: Villarreal - Porto

Keep your head up, Sr. Lopez
Keep your head up, Sr. Lopez

Leixoes SC (Portugal), FK Partizan (Serbia), and Real Madrid (Spain). Those are the 3 sides in UEFA club competition history that have overturned a 4-goal first leg deficit to advance in a knockout tie. Villarreal has a mountain to climb tonight at El Madrigal to join that exclusive list.

While belief purportedly abounds in the Villarreal dressing room, others are looking for a respectable performance to set the tone for next season's Champions League run. Based on Porto's form this season, the latter probably is the best that we can hope for. But I'm still leaving work early to catch this one.

Diego López, Mateo Musacchio, and Borja Valero, along with Porto's João Moutinho, would miss the Europa League final with a yellow card this evening. It sounds like Villas-Boas will play his big guns, including Falcao, Guarín, and Hulk. We have a 100% record with Italian referees at home, along with a 20-4 goal difference in European competition at El Madrigal this term. Good signs, but likely not enough.

Maddi nailed my starting XI (4-3-3):

Mario - Musacchio - Marchena - Capdevila
Borja - Bruno - Cazorla
Nilmar - Ruben - Rossi

Expect Marcos Senna, finally back in the squad, to play 30-45 minutes. He will return to a hero's welcome and rightfully take the captain's armband. Hopefully the tie still is in doubt at that point, as his presence will be a huge lift to Villarreal and the El Madrigal faithful.

Prediction: We will see a 90-minute effort tonight from El Submarino Amarillo (3 pm ET on GolTV in the U.S.). And that is all you can ask for. But yes, I do believe in milagros. Endavant Villarreal!