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Europa League draw: Villarreal will travel to Croatia

Overall, a promising draw for Villarreal’s aspirations

Villarreal v Dynamo Kyiv - UEFA Europa League Round Of 16 Leg Two Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images

Villarreal has drawn Dinamo Zagreb on the Europa League draw done today at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. The first leg will be played in Croatia, at the Maksimir Stadium, and the return leg at La Cerámica. Of all the possibilites in the draw, we can say Villarreal got lucky with Dinamo, but we shouldn’t understate them either as they are coming from eliminating Tottenham Hotspur, marking the first elimination suffered by a team coach by Jose Mourinho at the UEFA Cup and Europa League, with a hat-trick of one of their forwards, Mislav Orsic.

For the semifinals, if they advance, they will be facing the winner of the Arsenal vs Slavia Praha, with the first match at home. We can see that Villarreal has a real chance of getting into the final to be played at Gdansk, Poland.

But first, let’s concentrate on the game on hand. Dinamo Zagreb is arriving fighting the Croatian league with Osijek and with a new coach. Their former coach, Zoran Mamic, got sentenced to four years in jail for siphoning millions from Dinamo and evading taxes so he left the club this week and his second in-command Damir Krznar has been promoted to head coach. The team is composed of a mix of young players with some more experienced players. Their best player, at least for me, is Lovro Majer, a 23-year old attacking midfielder who commands their attacks, and a player I consider should be followed during his career. Villarreal already played against them during the group stage of the 2010/11 edition, losing 2-0 at Maksimir but winning 3-0 at El Madrigal.

Other matches for the quarterfinals:

Granada vs Manchester United

Arsenal vs Slavia Praha

Ajax vs Roma