Monaco vs Villarreal preview

Monaco host Villarreal in the second-leg of their Champions League play-off tie at the Stade Louis II on Tuesday trading as‘s heavy 13/10 favourites to seal their place in the group stage with a victory in front of their home support.

The Monegasques are in the driving seat in this tie following on from a 1-2 victory at El Madrigal last Wednesday.

A third-minute Fabinho penalty and a 72nd-minute Bernardo Silva strike proved sufficient to cancel out Alexandre Pato’s first-half equalizer and afforded Leonardo Jardim’s team a potentially decisive two away-goal advantage heading into the second-leg.

Still, it is feels hasty to discount the value represented by odds of 21/10 on a road win completely on Tuesday. After all, Villarreal’s preparations for the first-leg were severely disrupted by the departure of coach, Marcelino, following a dispute with the club executive regarding transfer strategy.

His successor, Fran Escriba, had less than a week to prepare an undercooked squad for what has the potential to be the club’s biggest game of the season and, at one goal down on aggregate, they remain competitive.

Villarreal have been damaged by the departures of Denis Suarez, Eric Bailly and Leo Baptistao this summer while senior striker, Roberto Soldado, was ruled out for five months with a serious knee-injury. It cannot be overlooked, however, that this squad lost just 10 matches en route to finishing fourth in La Liga last term and reached the semi-finals of the Europa League.

Furthermore, Escriba’s men got their new league campaign off to a solid start at Granada last weekend, drawing 1-1, and can only be expected to improve after having spent more time under their new manager. It is also notable that Monaco lost against Valencia in the play-off round 12 months ago.

That said, Leonardo Jardim’s team were quarter-finalists in the Champions League as recently as 2015 and won their second Ligue 1 game of the new season 0-1 at Nantes last weekend.

It is also notable that the Principality club have won five and lost just one of the eight home Champions League games that they have played over the last three seasons and they are W5 D3 L1 at home against Spanish opposition.


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