Another week, another 2-0 lead in the Europa League to defend. The permutations on this one are interesting. If we score at any point tomorrow, any chances of there being extra time go out the window, because any two goal loss by us would give Dynamo the away goals advantage. But also, if we score, then we just have to not concede three goals. We’ve only conceded three goals or more twice all year, once early on against Barcelona and once in a 5-3 win over Sivasspor.
Our attempts to keep the ball out of the net, though, will be complicated by the absence of Pau Torres from the lineup. Hopefully, Pau only miss one match after this one, and will return once the international break is through, but I would really, really prefer to have him in the second leg of a Europa League tie where we are trying to preserve a lead.
Only once in Villarreal history have we won the first leg and not progressed, the exception of course being against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, where we won the first leg 1-0 then lost rather badly at Anfield. We of course have a larger lead in this one and get to play the second leg at home.
They only other time Dynamo Kyiv has played at Villarreal, Santi Cazorla scored. He was 20 years old at the time, and it was the fourth UEFA Cup/Europa League goal of his career. Speaking of Europa League history, no team in the history of this tournament has ever managed fewer than two shots on goal in an entire two-legged tie. Dynamo had no shots on goal in the first leg, so if we can hold them to one or less we’ll set a new defensive record in the competition.
Cadiz is coming up on Sunday but everything we know about Unai Emery suggests that this match will be his primary focus. I’m interested to see how right back plays out. Does Jaume Costa get another start or is Mario Gaspar fit enough to go from the beginning? Will Paco get back into the starting lineup? We’ll have to see.