Anderlecht vs Villarreal predictions and match preview for Thursday’s UEFA Europa Conference League fixture. Read on for analysis and predicted lineups as the Yellow Submarine travel to Belgium.
|Thursday 9th March 2023
|UEFA Europa Conference League
Anderlecht vs Villarreal Preview
Villarreal’s UEFA Europa Conference League campaign resumes on Thursday with a trip to Belgium to play Anderlecht. The Yellow Submarine are one of the favourites to go all the way in this competition and they will expect to progress from this tie, although a tricky 1st Leg could be in store in Brussels.
The Conference League was always going to struggle to replicate the drama of the previous two seasons in Europe for Villarreal and a weak group meant they didn’t really have to work too hard to progress. They’d already done the hard work by the time Quique Setien replaced Unai Emery, although a 3-0 defeat at Lech Poznan did set the alarm bells ringing a little early on in Setien’s reign.
Villarreal have made tentative improvements since then under the former Betis and Barcelona boss. It hasn’t always been convincing and they did lose 4 straight league games in January/February but have since responded with back-to-back wins over Getafe and Almeria. The return of Gerard Moreno, who came off the bench to find a breakthrough against Almeria last time out, should help matters further and they’ll have their sights set on a long run in this competition.
Anderlecht in theory shouldn’t provide the sternest of tests. Despite being one of their giants of Belgian football, they are currently only 10th in the Belgian Pro League. They’ve not finished that far down the table since the 1930’s so these are dark times for the Brussels club, although their European campaign has at least offered a bit of light.
They’ve had to battle to make it this far though, seeing off Young Boys on penalties, just to make the group stage, where they advanced with only 8 points in a group that featured Premier League West Ham. Their Knockout Round Play-Off tie was also decided by penalties against Ludogorets Razgrad so they will need to find another level you’d imagine to compete against an experienced Villarreal side over two legs.
Score Prediction: Anderlecht 1-2 Villarreal
Villarreal rotated heavily throughout the group stage but this should be the point where they start to field stronger elevens. If they are even close to their best in this tie, they should have enough to see off an unconvincing Anderlecht side and a 1st Leg victory is a very realistic goal for Quique Setien’s men here.
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