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Dinamo Zagreb-Villarreal GAMETHREAD

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A spot in the semifinals is the goal!

Dinamo Zagreb v Villarreal - UEFA Europa League Quarter Final: Leg One Photo by Jurij Kodrun/Getty Images

Villarreal take on Dinamo Zagreb in a tasty Europa League quarterfinal match! As we’ve been saying all along, on paper you’d have to think Villarreal should be favored, but maybe not by as much as you’d think. Dinamo have done well this season and Villarreal will have to be in good form today.

The club arrived yesterday in Zagreb and held a practice session at the Maksimir Stadium. I can tell you the stadium is older than Villarreal is (inaugurated in May 1912, but most recently renovated in 2011, so it won’t look quite as it did when we last played there). It’s actually owned by the municipality of Zagreb, and the Croatia national team often uses it, Zagreb being Croatia’s capital and largest city—it has roughly the same population as the municipality of Valencia.

Bruno Petkovic is likely to miss the match with a shoulder injury, a big blow to Dinamo. We are without Estupinan and Iborra, but otherwise are at full strength. Apparently we used our hotel’s gym for a “gentle” weight session this morning, btw(!).

Here is our lineup:

Villarreal: Rulli; Foyth, Albiol, Pau, Pedraza; Parejo, Capoue, Trigueros; Chukwueze, Gerard, Bacca. (4-3-3)

Bench: Asenjo, Jorgensen, Mario, Funes Mori, Paco, Alberto Moreno, Peña, Costa, Moi, Yeremy, Alex Baena.

I’ll post Dinamo’s in the comments when I see it.

Prediction: This is a tough one to predict—yes, Dinamo defeated Tottenham 3-0 last time, but let’s not forget that followed a pretty unimpressive 2-0 loss in London, and in both matches Spurs really had plenty of chances to put the tie away and didn’t.

I see Whoscored is predicting a 2-0 Villarreal win. I would take that, of course, but that seems optimistic to me. Let’s say a 2-1 win, maybe? I would be very happy with that result.