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Villarreal-Sporting Lisbon EUROPA LEAGUE Preview

We have a slim lead from the first leg in Portugal.

Toko Ekambi celebrates his goal against Sevilla
Villarreal CF

Villarreal host Sporting Lisbon in the second leg of their Europa league Round of 32 tie. Going into this one a lot of Villarreal fans were saying basically don’t worry if we don’t go through, we need to concentrate on the league, but now we had a 1-0 win in Portugal and a win in the league last weekend, hopes are rather higher that we can progress to the round of 16 and escape the bottom three in La Liga in the next couple of weeks.

Sporting Lisbon warmed up for this match with a 3-0 victory over Braga at the weekend, with Bas Dost scoring twice. And they sold Nani to Orlando City of the MLS, not that we were expecting to see him anyway. Presumably they’ll set out a stronger team than they did for the first leg, as their next league match isn’t until Monday (away to Maritimo, who are 13th in the table). However, they won’t have Marcos Acuña following his red card in Portugal.

Villarreal are probably going to have a somewhat similar lineup to the first leg. Radio Vila-real tweeted they expect to see Andrés; Mario, Funes Mori, Victor Ruiz; Miguelon, Fuego, Trigueros, Pedraza; Fornals; Samu C and Gerard.

I’d say that’s probably reasonable, given that Bonrea is injured and Santy Caseres is suspended for this one. But I expect we could see Toko Ekambi, Bacca, Iborra, or Jaume Costa at some point depending on how things progress.

Prediction: Villarreal defended very well in the first leg once they had taken an early lead, and to be honest Sporting were a lot less impressive than I expected. I think they’ll play better than they did, but I feel they’ll leave themselves open at the back and could be the Trigueros—Fornals—Samu C combination will create good things for us. 2-1 Villarreal.