Zenit vs Villarreal
Competition: UEFA Europa League
Date: 7 March 2019
Kick-off: 18:55 CET
I keep writing since the start of the season that Zenit had/have the roster to reach at least the quarterfinals of the Europa League, and I kept believing in them even after their 1-0 defeat in Istanbul to Fenerbahce, in the first leg of the round of 32. At halftime in the return leg, back home, they were still out, winning 2-1, but “paying” for their failure to score away from home. Sardar Azmoun’s goal in the 76th minute redeemed them. They protected that two-goal lead, and made it through to the last 16, suffering, but… at the end of the day, they did it. As for Azmoun, he was a joy to watch. Practically everything good Zenit did offensively had his name all over it. The championship in Russia just restarted, and the Iranian scored again, the only goal of the match at Ural. Zenit remain leaders, three points ahead of second-placed Krasnodar.
Villarreal faced Sporting Lisbon in the round of 32. In the first leg, they were considered outsiders, but I tipped them to earn a draw, expecting the game to stay under 2.5 goals. They ended up winning, 0-1. In the return leg, they were considered favorites. Again, I went against the odds, suggesting Sporting’s double chance, paying almost 2.00, mentioning though that I didn’t necessarily expect the Portuguese to qualify. Draw, 1-1, with Villarreal equalizing in the 80th minute, avoiding extra-time. After that, they lost both matches they played in La Liga, with the one last weekend at home, to Alavés, being a particularly painful one. Hard to believe, but they are just 18th in the table, below the relegation line(!).
Previous five matches:
Ural vs Zenit 0-1
Zenit vs Fenerbahce 3-1
Fenerbahce vs Zenit 1-0
Sarpsborg vs Zenit 1-2
Zenit vs Dudelange 0-0
Villarreal vs Alavés 1-2
Atlético Madrid vs Villarreal 2-0
Villarreal vs Sporting Lisbon 1-1
Villarreal vs Sevilla 3-0
Sporting Lisbon vs Villarreal 0-1
Zenit’s next game is on Sunday, again at home, versus Ufa (Russia championship). Same day, Villarreal will be visiting Levante (Spain La Liga).
Zenit vs Villarreal: Head to head Stats
Zenit have hosted Villarreal once before, in 2008. Back then, they beat them 1-0.
Zenit vs Villarreal: Prediction
I’m going with Zenit’s win, firm believer in their potential.
Zenit vs Villarreal: Betting Tips
Zenit’s victory pays 2.02. Combined with “over 1.5” it goes up to 2.63. Deep down I expect more than two goals, but even 2.63 is good enough, I reckon, to avoid taking an even bigger risk.