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Bayer Leverkusen-Villarreal Europa League PREVIEW

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Villarreal are in Germany, defending a 2-0 lead from the home leg. An away goal is key for the Submarine in my view.

Let's hope we don't regret this moment.  Quite a photo!!
Let's hope we don't regret this moment. Quite a photo!!
Maria José Segovia

Another interesting second leg--how does Marcelino set up his squad to play this one?  Villarreal came so close to taking a three-goal advantage to Leverkusen, but Leo Baptistao's header was palmed away at the death.  Still, a 2-0 home lead is a good one to have.

Until Sevilla shredded our defense last weekend, I'd be feeling pretty confident about limiting Leverkusen to a goal or less--but now I am thinking the key to this might be for us to score a goal or two ourselves.  After all, if Leverkusen defeats us 4-2, we go through!

Victor Ruiz's lack of pace, which is hardly news, was exposed at the weekend; I would expect Villarreal will be happy to let Leverkusen have 60-65% of the possession, defend in their own half but look to break with quick counterattacks whenever possible.

Leverkusen need to just come out all guns firing.  It's going to be hard given their long list of injuries and their failure to score an away goal in El Madrigal, but they need two goals just to take it to extra time--and if Villarreal score, then they have to score four to progress, which is a really tall order.

Villarreal may have to start Sergio Asenjo in goal, or Mariano Barbosa.  Which is not a bad thing, but Asenjo hasn't played in nearly a year and Barbosa hardly at all either.  But if Areola is not 100% (and at least in the Castellon airport to board the plane, reports were he was limping noticeably) it is probably better to rest him.  Musacchio and Jaume Costa are still out, too.

Bayer Leverkusen's injury list is long and got longer this week when Omer Toprak pulled a muscle in training, so Ramalho will likely come in as a center back.  Kampl, Bender, Hilbert and Aranguiz are all out, and Christoph Kremer may be.  Plus, Tin Jedvaj is out after his red card in the first leg.

Prediction: Leverkusen 1-1 Villarreal on the night, Villarreal to advance 3-1 aggregate.

ENDAVANT!!