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Apollon Limassol-Villarreal CF PREVIEW

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Villarreal are taking on the Blue-Whites in Cyprus. Apollon are guaranteed to finish fourth in the group, so we'll see how motivated they are. The Submarine can qualify even with a loss (assuming Gladbach doesn't lose to Zurich) but will be going all out for three points.

ex-Villarreal man Gullón needs to be kept under control today
ex-Villarreal man Gullón needs to be kept under control today
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Getty Images

Villarreal's coach Marcelino said Tuesday we will have our "best possible team" out there tomorrow to take on Apollon.

However, the injury to Gabriel has put that plan in doubt, as the best team clearly would have included him at centerback.  I'm thinking the team may be something like  Asenjo; Mario, Pina, Dorado, Costa; Moi, Bruno, Trigueros, Cheryshev; Vietto and Uche (or Gerard).

After starting well enough in the Europa League, Villarreal has struggled of late, losing 3-2 to Zurich in Switzerland and drawing 2-2 with Gladbach in El Madrigal, which severely dented our chances of finishing first in the group.

Our opponents: Apollon Limassol are currently second in the Cypriot league, though they dropped their last match, 3-1 to AEK Larnaca.  The Europa League adventure hasn't gone that well; they opened up with a 3-2 win over Zurich but have lost their last four, though they did at least score in their last loss (3-1 in Basel).  Gladbach defeated them in Cyprus 2-0.

They play in an athletics ground which seats 13,000 but has a running track around the pitch, and the ground is not going to be anywhere near full for this match, so the atmosphere won't be as intimidating as it could be.  Apollon generally get around 5000-5500 for their matches at most--that's how many attended their other home EL ties.

The team itself has a couple of familiar faces, most notably ex-Villarreal man Marcos Gullón and ex-Sporting Gijon player Gaston Sangoy.  It's just hard to know how motivated they will be and how strong a squad coach Andone will put out there; they have a league match on Monday against the team just below them in the table.

The group situation is: Gladbach 9 pts, Villarreal 8 pts, Zurich 7 pts, Limassol 3.

Scenarios: If Gladbach defeat Zurich, they finish first in the group and Villarreal second, regardless of our result.

If Gladbach and Zurich draw, VIllarreal can finish first with a win; if we draw, we are second, if we lose, we are second (we own the tiebreaker over Zurich)

If Zurich defeats Gladbach, then we would win the group with a win ourselves, but anything less would eliminate us (Gladbach owns the tiebreaker over us).

Prediction: Apollon 1 Villarreal 2

No real feeling about this other than we've had a lot of 2-1 wins lately.  Unfortunately I expect Gladbach will defeat Zurich at home, so we will finish second in the group.