April 17, 2019

Europa League Match Previews – 18th April Thursday

Napoli v Arsenal

Arsenal will travel to the Stadio San Paolo on Thursday night looking to defend their 2-goal advantage when they face Napoli once again in the quarter finals of the UEFA Europa League. Arsenal will be looking forward to advance to the semi-final stage of the competition for the second time. In the reverse fixture, the Gunners were able to keep a clean sheet and overcome the Italian outfit with 2 goals.

Napoli have not been in their best form lately. They have been inconsistent over the last few weeks, winning twice, drawing once, and also losing twice over their previous five outings. Furthermore, they haven’t kept a clean sheet since the end of February. Carlo Ancelotti and his men will need to rectify that if they want to stand a chance and progress to the semi-finals of the league.

On the other hand, the Gunners have lost only once in their previous five matches across all competitions. Despite their somewhat poor away record this season, Unai Emery and his men will enter this match with sheer confidence after their 1-0 victory against Watford on Monday in what was their first ever clean sheet on the road in the Premier League so far this season. The Gunners also have a reputation of having a weak defensive line but they only conceded just one goal in their past six matches.

The home fans will definitely make things uncomfortable for the visitors so it will be quite a challenge for Unai Emery and his men. However, if Arsenal manages to keep a solid defensive performance on Thursday night against Napoli, they might just be able to proceed to the finals.

Eintracht Frankfurt v Benfica

Eintracht Frankfurt will be hosting Benfica on Thursday night for their second leg clash in the Europa League quarter-final. The hosts will need to step up their game if they want to overcome a 4-2 deficit from the first leg. They will need to score at least two goals if they want to stand a chance in the next round. Adi Hutter and his men will have to put in a great performance in order to progress to the next round of the competition.

Frankfurt will definitely use the advantage of playing at home and could possibly cause an upset on Thursday. Their home form is actually great as they were able to score 14 goals and conceding just two in their five matches at home in the Europa League this season. Benfica, on the other hand, have been a bit underwhelming on the road ever since they dropped out of the Champions League. However, the visitors currently have the aggregate score in their favour.

Benfica, on the other hand, will need to secure an away goal themselves if they want to secure the victory on Thursday night as well as a place in the semi-finals. The visitors have been inconsistent in their form on the road this season, losing three of their five away matches both in the Champions League and the Europa League. They also conceded ten times in the process.

Despite having the lead in this tie, Bruno Lage and his men should not be too complacent since they will be facing a side that has been dominant at home so far this season.

Valencia v Villarreal

Villarreal will be making a trip to Mestalla on Thursday to take on Valencia for the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final showdown. The hosts have the two-goal advantage after securing a 3-1 victory in the first leg so they will most definitely enter this match in high spirits. On the other hand, gone are the days when Villarreal used to be one of the most fearsome teams in the Spanish top flight. This season, they are just a few points above the relegation zone at the 15th spot.

The hosts are on fire at the moment, especially at their home turf. Apart from this, they were able to defeat Villarreal when they paid a visit to El Madrigal. Valencia is currently at the 6th spot in the La Liga, massive points away from Thursday’s opponents. They have proven to be quite a solid team this season.

Meanwhile, Villarreal has been a shadow of what they once were and has been fighting hard to avoid relegation. They will need all the help they can get and score plenty of goals if they want to survive and proceed to the next stage of the competition. However, last week’s tie showed that both these teams are capable of creating opportunities and score goals against the other.

With Villarreal’s somewhat vulnerable attacking prowess and shaky defence, it looks like a comfortable victory is on the cards for the hosts.

By @EliaasMJ

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