UEL Match Preview: RB Salzburg vs Villarreal Predictions

RB Salzburg vs Villarreal predictions

RB Salzburg vs Villarreal predictions and match preview for Thursday’s game in the UEFA Europa League. Read on for the head-to-head, team news and predicted lineups as the Yellow Submarine travel to Austria.

  • DATE: Thursday 18th February 2021
  • KICK-OFF: 21:00 (local time)
  • VENUE: Red Bull Arena
  • COMPETITION: UEFA Europa League

RB Salzburg vs Villarreal Preview

RB Salzburg vs Villarreal preview
RB Salzburg stadium via Arne Museler, CC BY-SA 3.0

Unai Emery’s men head to Austria to take on Salzburg in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 at the Stadion Salzburg on Thursday. The group stages at the end of last year were a formality, so it’s fair to say the real test has now begun for Villarreal in this season’s competition.

Salzburg and Villarreal are the two sides who have played the most matches in the Europa League era. Even so, neither of them have ever lifted the trophy. The Yellow Submarine were semi finalists in 2011 and 2016 and so were the Austrians in 2018. The Europa dream of only one side will remain alive after this tie, and you sense it could be Villarreal, managed by the three-time winner of this competition, Unai Emery.

The Groguets, however, would be a bit less optimistic heading into this tie now than they were at the time of the draw. Reasons for that is the rough patch that Villarreal are going through at the moment, having failed to win a league match in over a month. Last Sunday brought them their first home loss of the season as Real Betis triumphed 2-1 at the Cerámica with goals from Fekir and Emerson. Gerard Moreno pulled one back from the penalty spot before a controversial ending to the game saw a Villarreal equaliser chalked off in injury time. All in all, it was another uninspiring performance from Emery’s men and it has seen them slip to sixth on the standings, nine points behind fourth-placed Sevilla.

Champions League hopes have diminished over the last few weeks and things are not getting any easier for Unai Emery. His side’s upcoming two fixtures see them travel to in-form Athletic before a clash with leaders Atlético at the end of February. Needless to say, Villarreal are entering a decisive phase in their season and they start that off with a tricky trip to Austria. Performance in the UEL could go a long way in deciding Emery’s future at the club should things not go their way domestically.

Austrian champions Salzburg were transferred to the UEL after finishing third in their UCL group behind heavyweights Bayern and Atlético. They were still in the hunt for their first-ever Champions League knockout stage qualification until the last matchday but were beaten 2-0 by Atlético. 

Salzburg, who have won the Austrian Bundesliga in the last seven seasons, are unsurprisingly, top of the table again this season with 50 points from 17 games. Although they’ve lost key players in Dominik Szoboszlai and Hwang Hee-chan, goals haven’t been a problem for manager Jesse Marsch. That’s overwhelmingly thanks to the trio of Patson Daka, Sékou Koïta and Mërgim Berisha who have netted 50 times between them in all competitions this season. Keeping these three at bay will, unquestionably, be the biggest challenge for Villarreal on Thursday.

Head to Head

  • Last 4 Competitive Meetings: 2 Villarreal Wins, 2 Salzburg Wins.
  • This will be the fifth meeting between Die Roten Bullen and El Submarino Amarillo. 
  • Salzburg did the double over Villarreal back in the 2009-10 UEL group stages. 
  • However, the Spaniards ran out 5-2 winners on aggregate when they last met in the round of 32 back in 2014-15. 

Team News

Salzburg are missing three defenders in André Ramalho, Bernando and former Sevilla player Maximilian Wöber.

Samu Chukwueze has returned to training for Villarreal but might not be fully ready to feature on Thursday. Francis Coquelin and Mario Gaspar are ruled out.

Predicted RB Salzburg Starting Lineup:

Stanković – Ulmer, Vallci, Solet, Kristensen – Camara, Junuzović, Mwepu, Berisha – Koïta, Daka (4-4-2)

Predicted Villarreal Starting Lineup:

Asenjo – Pedraza, Torres, Albiol, Peña – Trigueros, Capoue, Parejo – Moi, Paco, Gerard (4-3-3)

RB Salzburg vs Villarreal Predictions

Score Prediction: RB Salzburg 1-2 Villarreal

Villarreal have been in fine form away from home in Europe having not lost any of their last eight games. Salzburg are not easy opposition but the Spaniards ought to have more quality in this one. Moreover, the hosts’ defensive problems could enable the Yellow Submarine to bag a couple of away goals and put them in a good position to advance to the round of 16.

UEFA Europa League Betting Tips (18+)

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About Akhil Rawat 41 Articles
Based in New Delhi, Akhil follows LaLiga and Spanish football religiously. Currently a novice in the world of football writing, he fancies expressing his passion for the league through words.