Today’s Pick (Europe League)

Today’s featured game is the UEFA Europa League game between Villarreal and VFL Wolfsburg. Hosts Villarreal won their first home game under new manager Garrido at weekend against Athletic Club de Bilbao so they’re looking to continue from there. VFL Wolfsburg have also replaced their manager in recent times but it’s yet to make a significant impact on their season.

Despite previous manager Ernesto Valverde having not paid the UEFA Europa League a great deal of respect earlier on in the season, he still guided Villarreal to two home wins out of three. We all know Villarreal are a capable side – it’s just whether they show it or not. I don’t know what Garrido’s committment to the UEFA Europa League is, in all honesty, but nothing else is going to come from their domestic campaign so why they wouldn’t go for the UEFA Europa League is beyond me. They beat a resilient Athletic Club de Bilbao 2-1 at weekend so they carry some momentum into this game. Few sides have any success at El Madrigal and Villarreal do tend to enjoy winning there too. With a mixture of their “honeymoon period”, some good momentum, and strength at home, I feel that Villarreal can take three points tonight.

Visitors VFL Wolfsburg have had a dismal campaign so far. It had to happen at somepoint, anybody that knows football will tell you that because Wolfsburg aren’t a good side. They did well to win the Bundesliga but the fact that five teams were still competing for it at the end of the season tells you that there was little consistency from any side and Wolfsburg simply took their chances better than their contemporaries so my respect goes to them for that. However, the pressure of now being favourites for games has affected them and has driven their opponents to work harder against them so Wolfsburg have really struggled. They’ve got some talented individuals but not enough to be a constant threat. Wolfsburg’s big problem is defence because they simply don’t know how to defend, which is unusual for a German side. They’ve leaked twelve goals in five Bundesliga games since returning from the winter break and although they have faced some tough sides they’ve simply not played well enough to deserve anything from those games. Wolfsburg lost two out of their three away games in the Champions League and have generally failed to convince me that they’re a side capable of playing on a big stage.

With Wolfsburg utterly devoid of defensive ability and confidence at the moment, it’s hard to see anything but Villarreal winning this game by taking the initiative and utilising their momentum. Villarreal are ultimately too good for Wolfsburg.

Prediction : Villarreal to win at 4/5.                                         (tft/mg)


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