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Manchester United vs. Villarreal Odds, Pick, Prediction: Value on Spanish Side in Champions League Match (Sept. 29)

Manchester United vs. Villarreal Odds, Pick, Prediction: Value on Spanish Side in Champions League Match (Sept. 29) article feature image

OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images. Pictured: Cristiano Ronaldo.

  • Manchester United welcomes Villarreal to Old Trafford for Wednesday's Champions League showdown.
  • The Red Devils opened group play with a disappointing 2-1 road loss against Swiss side Young Boys.
  • Anthony Dabbundo breaks down the meeting below and details why he finds value on the Spanish side.

Manchester United vs. Villarreal Odds

Manchester United Odds -205
Villarreal Odds +600
Draw +340
Over/Under 2.5 (-140 / +115)
Day | Time Wednesday | 3 p.m. ET
How To Watch Paramount+ | UniMás | fuboTV
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

A rematch of the Champions League final happened in the Premier League on Saturday, and now Villarreal travel to take on Manchester United on Wednesday in a rematch of the Europa League final.

Villarreal settled for a draw at home with Atalanta on the first matchday, while United suffered a stunning last-second defeat to Young Boys after a stoppage-time goal from American Jordan Pefok in the opening matchweek. Villarreal has famously been a thorn in United’s side in European competition.

The two sides have met four times in the Champions League, and a goal has never been scored.

Four goalless draws.

Those matchups haven’t happened in more than a decade, but Villarreal managed a 1-1 draw and a penalty shootout win in May in the EL final.

Unai Emery’s defense is usually difficult to break down, as Real Madrid learned on Saturday afternoon in La Liga and Arsenal learned in the Europa League semifinals last spring. Emery will challenge United to put together competent build-up play and ball progression to create chances, which has been a challenge for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side in his tenure at United.

Manchester United Missing Key Defensive Pieces

There’s no denying that United has the better players in this matchup and will control the flow of the game. However, United is short-handed in its backline and will be without right back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, center back Harry Maguire and likely Luke Shaw at left back.

Shaw is a critical wide creative threat and does lots of ball progression, while Maguire is one of the most underrated central defenders in the world. Wan-Bissaka is bad in build-up play and on the ball going forward, but his defensive solidity is really important for United up the right wing.

As a whole this season, United’s 27 low-quality shots and no goals performance against Aston Villa is indicative of their main issues in chance creation. There’s often very little structure and a heavy reliance on individual brilliance to create shots and goals. The addition of Cristiano Ronaldo helps alleviate this issue but doesn’t solve it.

United only has 9.9 expected goals (xG) from six games this season and has only played one team (West Ham) that’s likely to finish in the top 10. The Red Devils have conceded at least 1.00 xG against in four of their last five games against Young Boys, West Ham, Wolves, Newcastle and Aston Villa.

They’ve run five goals ahead of their xG difference with a +8 goal difference and +3.2 xG difference. This can’t just be explained by good finishing either because United’s post-shot numbers are also middling. It’s mostly explained by luck and good variance.

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Villarreal Likely Without Key Forward Moreno

The potential loss of Gerard Moreno is a big one for Villarreal. If he does play, that’s an added bonus, as he scored in the Europa League final and averaged 0.90 xG + expected assists (xA) per 90 minutes last season in La Liga.

Paco Alcacer isn’t quite as good as Moreno, but he is a solid option as a backup  and averaged 0.67 xG + xA per 90 last season. Villarreal will sit in its low block and play direct soccer and United won’t have their best aerial defender in Maguire to compete with Moreno if he starts, or Alcacer.

Villarreal’s defense has allowed 6.7 xGA in six La Liga games, which is more than they were allowing last season, but they also played two of the expected top three in the league already in Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.

The Yellow Submarine has tied seven of its eight competitive games this season, including its Champions League opener and UEFA Super Cup penalty-shootout loss to Chelsea.

Betting Analysis & Pick

Manchester United is in a good buy-low spot here after three losses in four matches and the pressure mounting on Solskjaer to produce results. His job security is in peril if results continue to go sour, but I’m not buying low here on United because Villarreal’s defense can be so difficult to break down.

My projections make United about 0.75 goals better at home in this matchup, so I will take the full goal at even money. There are defensive concerns for United if three of its four main defenders are out and concerns about how they consistently create quality chances without moments of individual magic.

Villarreal won’t have nearly as much of a punch if they don’t have Moreno up top, but they should still find success in transition given United’s defensive issues on the counter.

Pick: Villarreal +1 (+100)

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