Dinamo Zagreb vs. Villarreal Europa League Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions: Take Spanish Side as Small Favorite
Álex Cámara/NurPhoto via Getty Images. Pictured: Villarreal standout Gerard Moreno, center, celebrates a goal with his teammates.
- Spanish club Villarreal journeys to Croatia to face Dinamo Zagreb in a Europa League quarterfinal-round match on Thursday's busy card.
- The Blues reached this part of the competition after eliminating Tottenham Hotspur in the previous round.
- Kieran Darcy explains below why he things Villarreal has what it takes to get the job done in the opening leg.
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Villarreal Odds
|Dinamo Zagreb Odds||+290|
|Over/Under||2.5 (+133 / -165)|
|Day | Time||Thursday | 3 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Wednesday afternoon via DraftKings.|
The Europa League quarterfinal round begins Thursday, with intriguing matchups across the board, including two featuring a team from outside the big-five leagues on the continent.
Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb is one of those clubs, and it’ll be hosting Spanish outfit Villarreal in the first leg.
Here’s a closer look at the combatants, followed by a prediction.
The Blues advanced to the quarterfinals in dramatic fashion, overcoming a 2-0 deficit after the first leg to knock out heavily favored Tottenham Hotspur via their 3-0 home victory back on March 18. Mislav Orsic recorded a hat trick for Zagreb, with the third goal coming in extra time.
Before that, Zagreb had defeated Krasnodar — currently 10th in the Russian Premier League — by a 4-2 aggregate scoreline in the Round of 16. The club had won Group K, which also included Wolfsberger, Feyenoord and CSKA Moscow, with four victories and two draws.
Domestically, Zagreb is in first place in Croatia’s top flight, level on points with Osijek, but sitting with a game in hand. Orsic, who is Croatian, and Swiss forward Mario Gavranovic lead the team with 14 goals apiece.
The Blues are currently No. 68 in FiveThirtyEight’s Global Club Soccer Rankings, just one spot above Burnley, which us 15th place in the Premier League standings.
The Yellow Submarine advanced to this round of the competition in much easier fashion, dispatching Ukranian side Dynamo Kyiv, 4-0, on aggregate. Prior to that, Villarreal ousted Salzburg in a 4-1 aggregate total in the Round of 32. And it had also won Group I, which included Maccabi Tel Aviv, Sivasspor and Qarabag, with five wins and a draw, outscoring its opponents by a combined 17-5 goals.
Domestically, Villarreal is currently sixth in La Liga with 46 points — level on points with fifth-place Real Betis, but 12 points behind fourth-place Sevilla in the Spanish top flight. The Yellow Submarine has only lost five of its first 29 league matches this season. However, the problem is that is also has been a part of a league-high 13 draws.
The underlying numbers paint Villarreal in a more favorable light. Its expected-goal differential (xGDiff) of +15.6, according to FBRef, ranks it fourth in the league, putting it ahead of both league-leader Atlético Madrid (+12.1 xGDiff) and Sevilla (+10.9 xGDiff) in the advanced metric.
Villarreal also has a star forward on top of his game in Gerard Moreno, who has 19 goals and five assists in 24 league appearances.
That has him tied for second with Atlético Madrid star Luis Suarez, putting them behind only Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and his 23 goals. Moreno has also been very productive in the Europa League, accumulating four goals and four assists in seven appearances.
For comparison sake, Villarreal is currently No. 19 in FiveThirtyEight’s global club rankings. The Spanish outfit is two spots above Tottenham, which Zagreb — as mentioned above — eliminated in the Round of 16 at this showcase event.
Betting Analysis & Pick
That last note above might give you confidence that Zagreb can eliminate Villarreal as well, and it’s certainly possible. However, I wouldn’t bet on it.
The Blues were rather fortunate to defeat Spurs, according to the underlying numbers. Tottenham was the much better team in both legs, according to the xG from the matchup, and won the battle by a combined 3.7-1.3 margin.
Villarreal has won five consecutive matches across all competitions, including a 3-0 victory at Granada this past Saturday. That said, I think The Yellow Submarine will triumph in this spot as well.
Pick: Villarreal ML (-103)