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Villarreal--Sevilla: Europa League PREVIEW

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Maria José Segovia

Villarreal are preparing for this one behind closed doors (the practices, usually open to the public, have been closed this week) and Marcelino hasn't even named his squad yet, saying some players have little niggles and he wants to wait before doing so.

We know Eric Bailly, Adrián Marin and Bojan Jokic won't be available; Gio dos Santos came out of the last match at halftime for 'precautionary reasons'.   And Tomas Pina is suspended for this one.  Mateo Musacchio did the press conference today, so it seems a safe bet he'll start, but beyond that, we have to wait and see.

Our opponents have been practicing behind closed doors too, and have a travelling party of 20: Sergio Rico, Barbosa, Diogo, Coke, Fernando Navarro, Tremoulinas, Carriço, Nico Pareja, Kolo, Mbia, Krychowiak, Iborra, Banega, Vitolo, Aleix Vidal, Reyes, Denis Suárez, Gameiro, Iago Aspas and Carlos Bacca.

Plenty of firepower in those names, but the question is, will Unai Emery come up with some sort of scheme to keep Villarreal off the scoreboard?  He's had success against Villarreal through the years, especially when at Valencia.

Manu Trigueros said a key to this match would be to keep Sevilla off the scoreboard.  That's certainly true, but alternatively we have got to win big.  3-1 at least, or even 4-1.  Is that more likely than 2-0 or 3-0?  Probably.

Sevilla got off to a fine start this season but have dropped down a little bit in recent weeks, and have had a propensity for surrendering goals on the road.  Then again, they have tended to score on the road too.  They eliminated a good Borussia Munchengladbach team, defeating them twice, while we were only able to draw with the Germans twice.  Does that mean anything?  Probably about as much as the statistic that Villarreal has never lost in the round of 16 in Europe.

Prediction: Villarreal 2-1 Sevilla.  Maybe not enough to get us to the final eight, but we'll see.