February 20, 2019

Europa League Match Previews – 21st February Thursday

Villarreal v Sporting

A tight contest is set to take place on when Villarreal welcomes Sporting Lisbon for the return fixture of their Europa League faceoff. Villarreal is on the back of a four-match unbeaten run as well as claiming the victory over Thursday’s opponents in a 0-1 win on the road over the weekend. The hosts will definitely be looking forward to claim the victory once again when they take on Sporting Lisbon for their Europa League second leg clash on Thursday. Sporting will also head into this fixture fresh off the back of a confidence booster victory against Braga and will be hoping to come out victorious against Villarreal.

The Yellow Submarines will be entering the match as the favourites to qualify for the last-16. Villarreal are currently struggling in the La Liga but they are certainly having a good run in the European competition as evident by their win against Sporting in the first leg of their match.

However, there were able to pick up three points in the La Liga after winning against Sevilla. Despite their performances lately, they still sit near the relegation zone. Javi Calleja’s men still have a lot to go through if they want to survive the competition. Moreover, it may be possible for them to survive this match especially with the assistance of Santi Cazorla.

On the other hand, Sporting Lisbon aren’t really that impressive either lately. Their consistency is missing and this was evident during the first leg match. However, they are performing quite well in the domestic league. The Lions are currently seated at the 4th spot in the Primeira Liga, a much better spot compared to their opponents.

With Sporting playing on a solid defense, they are expected to be driven to turn things around and prove that they can overpower Villarreal on Thursday. The hosts may not be playing well as compared to their guest domestically, but they are performing just fine in a much tougher competition.

Eintracht v Shakhtar

Shakhtar Donetsk will be travelling to the Commerzbank-Arena to take on Eintracht Frankfurt for the second leg of their Europa League tie on Thursday. The first leg clash between these two didn’t really go the way expected with a 2-2 draw as the outcome. Furthermore, Shakhtar’s key midfielder Taras Stepanenko was sent off after acquiring his second offence.

Shakhtar fought well for the draw in their first leg match against the German side. However, it looks like this second leg will be another challenge for them. With Stepanenko out and defender Sergei Kryvtsov suspended after being booked last week, Paulo Fonseca’s side will need all the luck and power they can get to come out successful in this clash.

Eintracht Frankfurt, on the other hand, aren’t really doing that great either. Although they managed to deliver their usual attacking threat during the first leg, it can be seen that Frankfurt are quite exposed at the back especially in recent home fixtures. They failed to get a hold of Gladback over the weekend, and now they’ve conceded at least once in each of their previous six at Commerzbank-Arena. If Adi Hutter wants his men to succeed on Thursday, they need to strengthen up their attacking methods and improve on their defensive strategies.

Chelsea v Malmo

Chelsea will face Malmo for the second time for the return fixture of their Europa League clash. Chelsea will be looking forward to once again come out victorious against the Swedish side. Even though the Blues won the first leg, they weren’t overly impressive with their performances. Goals from Ross Barkley and Olivier Giroud were the ones who secured the Blues’ victory in Sweden.

With Chelsea having a poor form lately in the Premier League, Maurizio Sarri will undoubtedly have his eye on the Europa League and Sunday’s EFL Cup Final against Premier League reigning champions and current leaders, Manchester City.

Since Chelsea are out of the FA Cup, they will need to keep their eyes on other prizes they could get their hands on to. Despite winning the first leg against Malmo, the Blues won’t be entering this match in full confidence after suffering from another loss on Monday in the hands of Manchester United. They’ve been struggling to keep their momentum after a lot of disappointing trips, though they’ve been in high spirits in front of their home supporters. The Blues are quite well when they play on their home turf and they may use this to their advantage on Thursday.

In the meantime, Malmo are also quite the strugglers. They failed to keep their consistency too. Malmo have struggled to notch up goals continuously and it’s been showing through their performances lately. Uwe Rosler will now want to cause an upset at Stamford Bridge but it would definitely be a tough challenge after last week. Chelsea will also be desperate in securing another win to make up for their awful form lately. Expect a tight and thrilling match between these two teams on Thursday.

By @EliaasMJ

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