Atalanta vs. Villarreal Champions League Odds, Picks, Preview: Back Serie A Power in Crucial Group F Match

Atalanta vs. Villarreal Champions League Odds, Picks, Preview: Back Serie A Power in Crucial Group F Match article feature image
Credit:

Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images. Pictured: Duvan Zapata.

  • Atalanta hosts Villarreal in a massive Champions League match Wednesday in Group F action.
  • The Italian side needs a victory to reach the knockout phase, while the Spanish visitors move on with a win or draw.
  • Anthony Dabbundo takes a deep look at this contest below and details why he's backing Atalanta to triumph.

Atalanta vs. Villarreal Odds

Atalanta Odds -140
Villarreal Odds +350
Draw +310
Over/Under 3.5 (+145 / -165)
Day | Time Wednesday | 3 p.m. ET
How To Watch Paramount+ | fuboTV
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute soccer odds here.

Manchester United already clinched top spot in Group F with its road win at Villarreal in Matchday 5, meaning that second place in the group is on the line on Wednesday when Villarreal visits Atalanta.

Atalanta had a chance to grab control of second at Young Boys in its last time out in the Champions League, but it tied 3-3 against the Swiss side and now needs a victory on Wednesday to advance. Villarreal, meanwhile, would advance with a win or draw.

The two sides met in Spain to open the Champions League group stage in September, when Atalanta scored a late goal to grab a 2-2 draw in an otherwise shaky performance.

Atalanta’s form has improved since that match both in Serie A and the Champions League, making La Dea solid home favorites to advance and send Villarreal to the Europa League.

Atalanta Starting to Heat Up Offensively

Atalanta had a slow start to the domestic and European campaign, struggling to put up the shot and chance creation numbers that had been its specialty over the last three or four seasons. Given the injury issues and the aging attackers, many wondered if Atalanta was finally in decline.

The pressing and shot numbers, which had been top of Serie A for multiple seasons, were not there early this season. Recent performances, though, have shown that Atalanta is returning to the kind of high-octane soccer and dominant chance creation metrics of the past.

La Dea have a +0.4 xG difference per 90 in Italy and since the start of October, only Inter Milan has better attacking numbers in the Italian top flight. Duvan Zapata is averaging a healthy 0.77 xG per 90, Luis Muriel is posting 0.51 xG per 90 and Josip Illicic continues to produce both ball progression and assist numbers for La Dea.

Atalanta did lose full back Robin Gosens for the rest of the season due to injury, but Davide Zappacosta and Joakim Maehle have helped to fill his role at left wingback, while Hans Hateboer has returned on the right.

Combine that with the addition of Teun Koopmeiners in the midfield and it appears that Atalanta has recycled main parts of its squad and engine room effectively.

Emery’s Villarreal Side Stagnant This Season

The Yellow Submarine might have won the Europa League in May to secure its spot in the Champions League, but it’s been an up-and-down campaign for Unai Emery’s side this year both in La Liga and the Champions League.

Villarreal has just a +0.2 xGD per 90 in Spain, where it sits 12th. It has been plagued by defensive miscues and inconsistent attacks at points throughout the year, especially when put under pressure.

Villarreal performed well against Young Boys in the group and has done well against the worst teams in Spain, although it has struggled with the step up in competition. The Yellow Submarine was outplayed significantly by Barcelona, Sevilla,  Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.

On one hand, Villarreal usually sets up to sit deep and absorb pressure. This is a defense-first side with solid counterattacking options. But Atalanta is going to press high as it always does, and Villarreal’s had too many mistakes at the back to trust it in this high pressure spot away from home.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

The narrative around Villarreal is that it’s a well set-up tournament team who is difficult to break down, but most of the quality teams that have played them this year have been able to produce plenty of chances and goals.

The Yellow Submarine hasn’t performed well against teams who can effectively press the back line and try to win the ball high up the pitch, which is exactly what Atalanta will look to. La Dea opened -120 here and has taken money in the market, pushing them up to -140. That’s the end of the range of which I’d play Atalanta at home here.

The Bergamo-based side has performed better domestically and my projection makes them -150 to take all three points to advance to the knockout stage.

Pick: Atalanta ML (-140 or better)

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