Napoli vs Villarreal by Enzo
In a pretty defensive game from both sides, Napoli suffered narrow 1:0 defeat away to Villarreal in the first leg of 1/16 finals of Europa League. Italian side had more of the ball possession, but weren't especially concrete in attack, as the Spaniards looked a bit lucky to walk away with a victory thanks to goal from Suarez in 82nd minute.
The team actually entered a bit poorer period, but also a very difficult schedule, since the team lost to Juventus and Villarreal away from home, but also drew against Milan last Monday evening 1:1. Two games without a victory in Serie A saw the team falling back to second position, but still with a point less than Juventus and with every chance in their title race. Italian side will continue to play in their typical 4-3-3 formation with Gabbiadini, Mertens and Callejon as their forwards. Coach Maurizio Sarri has a fully fit squad to chose from and the team will probably be fielding here their strongest lineup after the narrow defeat in first leg. Players such as Vlad Chiriches and Dries Mertens should get some playing time too.
Despite a narrow victory, Villarreal is still not sure about their progress and no doubt that the team will need to give their best in order to stay undefeated here, or to progress with a goal scored. They didn't have many offensive phases in the first leg, but still used their energy better in last ten minutes and celebrated narrow 1:0 victory.
They looked also quite well in a goalless draw away to Atletico Madrid alst weekend, since the team was underdog in that one, but still managed to pull out a point. Team from Madrid was better during the game, had much more of the ball possession and more chances created, while the visiting side looked simply too passive, without creating much on the field, but with good standing the defense. They are now at fourth position still, having eight points more than fifth placed Sevilla, so the team has every reason to feel safe regarding their Champions League outing for the next season. Villarreal continues to play in 4-4-2 formation with Soldado and Batistao as their strikers. Visitors will have Eric Bailly and Adrian back for this game, but the team will miss Jonathan dos Santos (midfielder, 20/0). They also will be without forward Samuel (12/1).
Easy or hard, I believe Napoli will get a victory here and eventually qualification for the next phase. Spaniards aren't that tough on the road while the players of Napoli already looked like having this game in their minds when playing against Milan.