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  • Europa League: Zenit St Petersburg v Villarreal Preview and Prediction

    Europa League: Zenit St Petersburg v Villarreal Preview and Prediction

    Date/Time: Thursday 7th March 2019 (Kick-off 6:55 PM CET). 

    Balancing out European and domestic competitions can be a real challenge for clubs who have big goals to achieve in both.

    In this situation I do feel that both Zenit St Petersburg and Villarreal may actually feel the Europa League could be a long-term distraction with their main ambitions being successes domestically.

    For Zenit St Petersburg the final 12 games in the Russian Premier League will be all about trying to win a first League title since 2015. They are leading the way at the moment and that is their favoured avenue back into the Champions League.

    It is a slightly different story for Villarreal who are battling to avoid relegation in the Spanish Primera Division and winning the Europa League won't make up for playing outside the top flight next season.

    With that said I do think both clubs will be motivated to reach the Quarter Final and they have both been playing some of their better football in the Europa League. Zenit St Petersburg have a really strong record here in the last few years in Europe and they go into this one having won all 11 of their last 12 home games in the Europa League including all 6 played here this season.

    Villarreal have yet to be beaten in the Europa League despite their poor domestic form and they did win at Sporting Lisbon last month. However Villarreal had to ride their luck to earn a 3-3 draw in Spartak Moscow in the Group Stage and this may feel like another step up for them.

    I imagine it is going to be a tight First Leg and I do think all will be to play for when they meet again in Spain next week. However I have to give the slight edge to a Zenit St Petersburg team who have been very strong at home all season and who are facing a Villarreal side that have to be lacking some confidence despite forging a path through to the Last 16.

    You can find odds against quotes backing the Russian leaders to have a lead to take into the Second Leg and that looks the way to go.

     

    Prediction: Zenit St Petersburg to win


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