Slavia Prague vs Villarreal by Jimeno
Slavia Prague surprised decently in the third round of Europa League when the side managed to steal a point away from home against Villarreal and keep the position that would grant them knockout phase later on. After three rounds, they are sharing the first position with the Spanish side with five points each, one more than Astana and four more than Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv.
As for the domestic league, players of Slavia come from a pretty easy away victory on Sunday afternoon when they visited Slovacko and won the clash with a 3:0 result. They opened the game with a goal in 14th minute via Soucek, while Skoda doubled it up in 31st minute and the seal of victory came in 46th minute with a goal from van Buren. The match was even more open than what the final result shows and probably the home team deserved to score at least once as well. The team continues being second, with already eleven points less than leaders from Plzen and their realistic target would be reaching that second spot and Champions League qualifiers for the next season.
Forward Muris Mesanovic (3/0) is long term absentee since September, while injured also remains midfielder Dusan Svento (2/0) also not performing for weeks and weeks.
Villarreal was better than their opponents in previous Europa League clash, but the side paid the price of entering the game slowly, since they were losing with 2:0 down after first thirty minutes and even though they managed to level up the result till the halftime whistle (goals from Trigueros and Bacca in 41st and 44th minute), they didn't manage to revert the score completely despite being better in the second halftime.
As for the domestic league, Villarreal managed to take a point in an away game against Atletico Madrid with a 1:1 result last Saturday evening, in a match where they were almost overwritten with team from Madrid being a strong favorites. However, Villarreal was the one to have more of the ball possession and fair amount of chances created too, but the hosts took the lead in 61st via Correa, while Bacca replied in 81st for somehow deserved point. The team is now at sixth position, having just three points less than third and Champions League placed Real Madrid.
Goalkeeper Andres Fernandez (2/0) is sidelined for months already with a knee injury, while doubtful for this match remain midfielder Bruno (no performance in the new season) and defender Ruben Semedo (3/0) being ill.
- Villarreal has won just one out of last five away competitive matches.
No doubt that Villarreal will be looking for a victory here in order to have more relaxed ending of the group stage, but Slavia already showed that they are more than dangerous side and well organized in attack. Guests are closer to get a victory, but my first choice here will remain with both teams scoring.