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Villarreal CF-Bayer Leverkusen EUROPA LEAGUE ROUND OF 16 PREVIEW

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Villarreal host Bayer Leverkusen in the first leg of what should be a hotly contested round of 16 matchup.

March 2011 vs Leverkusen at El Madrigal: a moment of silence for the tsunami victims in Japan
March 2011 vs Leverkusen at El Madrigal: a moment of silence for the tsunami victims in Japan
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

The Villarreal squad is as it has been recently--no Mateo Musacchio, no Jaume Costa.  It is:

No question Musacchio will be a big loss--he and Ruiz have been a great pairing in the center of our defense.  Villarreal need to do two things in this match to be successful: first, they need to keep Leverkusen off the scoresheet, and second, they need to score MORE than one goal.  A 1-0 win isn't going to be enough to take to Germany, I don't think.

So, with that in mind, it will probably be Areola; Mario, Ruiz, Bonera, Bailly; Nahuel, Bruno, Trigueros, Denis Suarez; Soldado and Baptistao (though I am less than certain about these two).

The big concerns on offense will be creating chances--we are so reliant on Denis Suarez and have gotten little help from Castillejo or Nahuel of late--and, having created them, could we please score?  Soldado has been poor in front of goal, Bakambu hasn't scored in  ages.  We got through Napoli on the strength of a free kick and a fortuitous cross; we need more than that this time.

Leverkusen are struggling with injuries right now--Stefan Kießling's hip has been a problem, Chicharito has had a torn muscle in-ah--his gluteus maximus but should be fine to play, but Roberto Hilbert, Lars Bender and Kevin Kampl are all out.    Chicharito, Bellarabi and Calhanoglu have been impressive and are big threats, but of late, Bayer have been leaking goals in the Bundesliga--3 to Mainz, 4 to Werder Bremen, 3 to Augsburg.

Their coach went to scout us against Las Palmas.  Guess we didn't give anything away there :)

Prediction: We'll get chances.  Can we convert them?  Hmmm..... I honestly have no idea.  How about 2-1 Villarreal (so we accomplish one of our goals, but not both)?

ENDAVANT VILLARREAL!!!!