Well... the heavy rotation we took against Osasuna was only moderately painful. We gave up a point to both Real Sociedad and Real Betis in exchange for being as fresh as possible for this second leg. Now, we find out whether it was all worth it.
Since the competition became rebranded as the Europa League in 2009-2010, only once has a Spanish side ben eliminated after winning the first leg in a two round tie away from home, and that was Real Betis losing to fellow Spanish side Sevilla in 2013-2014. Villarreal is currently on their longest winning run in their Europa League history, and will look to continue it tomorrow.
Gerard Moreno is three goals away from tying Giuseppe Rossi for the most European goals in Villarreal history, and if we get a win in this tie I wouldn’t be shocked if he reached that mark by the end of this season. The Osasuna match marked only the second time in 2021 he has appeared in a match and not contributed to a goal, and of course he started on the bench.
It seems to me that Unai Emery fully trusts Carlos Bacca ahead of Paco Alcacer at this point, which I never would have believed to start the year but it’s a decision that has paid off in recent weeks. It seems to be more about team shape and making space for Gerard than goal scoring. The vast majority of our regulars did not play a full 90 minutes against Osasuna, so they should be fresh and ready to go. No excuses, if we draw or win we advance, and so we should. I have a higher tolerance than most for faltering in the league as long as we are advancing in this competition, but falling short in both areas is totally unacceptable.