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Villarreal at Atalanta: Champions League Preview

Sevilla FC v Villarreal CF - La Liga Santander Photo by Aitor Alcalde Colomer/Getty Images

Draw FC. Embrace it lads, because that’s our world until the end of the match on Wednesday. After weeks of not winning matches that we really needed to have won, we find ourselves in a situation where if we draw against Atalanta, we’ll advance to the round of 16. Pretty much no matter what happens, we’ll have some form of European football after New Years, and as much as the club’s supporters would like to make this match an ultimatum on Unai Emery, if he finds himself relegated to the Europa League, you all know he’s going to have a compelling argument Sr. Roig to try and defend that title.

Our Opponents

The last time we played Atalanta, we went behind early, tied through Trigueros, took the lead through Danjuma, and then gave it back to Gosens in the 83rd minute. That, of course, marks one of several moments that, had they gone differently, would have seen us able to rotate in this match not having to worry about a thing.

Since drawing Young Boys in their last CL matchday, Atalanta have actually done pretty well. They beat Juve 1-0, dusted Venezia 4-0, then won a wacky match with Napoli 3-2. Atalanta has played five matches against Spanish opposition in the UCL and they’ve averaged over four goals per match in those games. Only one team (Inter) has more goals than them in Serie A this season.

Villarreal

Will Danjuma be back? He posted an absolutely gruesome image of his back after some kind of cupping therapy on social media as he rapidly tries to get fit, but I would guess that if he’s available he will be coming off the bench. If that’s the case, then Samu Chukwueze absolutely needs to start this match. His dynamic play out wide has the kind of game changing potential that only a couple other players on the roster actually have.

After missing a chance against Sevilla that had an 87% chance of going in per expected goals, Gerard Moreno will be trying to get his season well and truly going. I’m astonished that I just typed that sentence in December.

Prediction

Analytic site Stats Perform gives us a 65.3% chance of advancing, while 538 is more conservative in giving us just a 52% chance to advance. Like I said at the outset, I’m channeling Draw FC vibes here so I’m predicting 1-1.