Two of the biggest teams left standing in the Europa Conference League will lock horns in the round of 16. Anderlecht will have home advantage for the first showdown against Villarreal, and the crucial first leg could go a long way in deciding which team will progress through to the last eight.
Europa Conference League Preview
It will be a historic game for Villarreal on Thursday, as their showdown against Anderlecht comes just a day shy of the 100th birthday of the club. The Spanish side will be looking for an early celebration on Thursday, as they bid to continue their recent upturn in form. Villarreal has won each of their previous two matches in Europe, with the latest of their wins coming in the form of a 2-0 success on the road against Almeria on Saturday evening.
Villarreal faced few issues in reaching this stage of the competition, as they picked up four wins from six matches in the group stage. Their only defeat came in their final group fixture where their passage through as group winners was already assured. But, they have picked up two wins from three away fixtures in the Europa Conference League already this term.
Anderlecht needed to do things the hard way to reach this stage of the Europa Conference League, as they could only finish second in Group B behind West Ham United. In the first half of the season, they picked up just two wins from six matches, and scored just six goals across the six matches that they played.
They also needed their fair share of luck to reach the round of 16, as they fought back from a 1-0 first leg defeat against Ludogorets before progressing from the penalty spot. This home game will be key to their chances of progression.
Anderlecht vs Villarreal Head to Head
This will be the first ever competitive meeting between these two sides in a European competition. It will be a crucial showdown ahead of the second leg back in Spain next week.
Anderlecht vs Villarreal Prediction
Anderlecht has struggled throughout the season in Europe this term, and they were extremely lucky to come through their playoff tie against Ludogorets last week. We struggle to see anything other than a victory for the away team this week. We could see Villarreal landing a straightforward 2-0 win.
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