Sporting CP welcome the visitors Villarreal CF in the Europa League Play-offs – 1/16 Finals. The match will be held on Thursday, February, 14th, at the Estadio Jose Alvalade (Lisabon).
Sporting CP’s run in this campaign is quite typical. They present no surprise to their fans, either good, or bad. After 21 rounds, they take the 4th tier in their national championship which provides for the Europa League in the next campaign. The ‘Lions’’ breakaway from the 5th place is significant, 7 points; the top tier is unreachable; and they are 7 points off the 3rd place. Therefore, the hosts may focus on the Europa League now, not worrying of the national league. No wonder if they manage to reach, say, a semi-final in their present relaxing mode.
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The visiting Villarreal feature a totally different situation. They are failing in the national competition, taking the 19th place after 23 rounds, 4 points off the safe 17th line. There is no point in dreaming of the Europa League under these circumstances. In our view, if the ‘Yellow Submarine’ travelled to Lisbon without their leaders, it would be normal. Why to put extra pressure on the players who fail to complete their ordinary tasks? By all means, it’s more important for the guests to stay in the elite division than to compete in the 1/16 final. Therefore, we don’t expect any serious fight by the Spanish outfit tomorrow.
We’re betting on the ‘Lions’’ win which seems logical. One side have no further goals in their national league – they will neither progress, nor go down in the table; the other side need to avoid a total failure in the La Liga. Thus, the hosts are more ambitious to win than their visitors are.
Prediction for the match: Sporting CP to win home.