Europa League Quarterfinals Odds & Betting Picks for Villarreal vs. Dinamo Zagreb (Thursday, April 15)
Goran Stanzl/Pixsell/MB Media/Getty Images. Pictured: Villarreal star Gerard Moreno.
- Villarreal enters Thursday's Europa League quarterfinal-round match against Dinamo Zagreb as a heavy -1250 odds favorite to advance in the tournament.
- The Spanish outfit earned a 1-0 road win against its Croatian opponent in the opening leg.
- Kieran Darcy dives into this matchup below and explains why he's expecting a low-scoring affair.
Villarreal vs. Dinamo Zagreb Odds
|Dinamo Zagreb Odds||+650|
|Over/Under||2.5 (+100 / -122)|
|Day | Time||Thursday | 3 p.m. ET|
|Odds updated Thursday afternoon via DraftKings.|
Villarreal is a heavy favorite, sitting at a whopping -1250 odds on DraftKings, to advance to the Europa League semifinal round entering Thursday’s match against Dinamo Zagreb.
The Yellow Submarine — yes, that’s the Spanish side’s nickname — only carries a one-goal lead into the second leg, but it’s an all-important away goal that came in its 1-0 victory in Croatia last week’s opening leg.
From a statistical point of view, the first match was relatively even. Villarreal had 59% possession of the ball, yet only outshot Zagreb by a slim, 13-11 margin. The La Liga side’s goal also came via a penalty kick.
So, it it worth taking a shot on the underdog in this spot? Let’s take a closer look at the clubs, followed by a pick for this match.
The Yellow Submarine is coming off a poor result this past weekend. The club suffered a 2-1 home defeat against Osasuna, which is in 14th place in the Spanish top flight. Some key players were rested, though, including leading scorer Gerard Moreno, who only came on at halftime. Clearly, manager Unai Emery was prioritizing this second leg of this matchup.
With eight games left in the domestic season, Villarreal is seventh in La Liga on 46 points, which is a point behind Real Sociedad and Real Betis. Fourth place is out of reach due to the fact Sevilla is 15 points clear. However, Villarreal will want to finish in the top six and automatically qualify for next season’s Europa League.
Now, Villarreal could win the current competition, thereby qualifying for the Champions League next season. And that possibility is certainly not out of the question. In fact, Villarreal is currently the second betting favorite to win the title, according to FiveThirtyEight, at 19 percent, sitting only behind Premier League giant Manchester United at 43 percent.
Villarreal is the fourth-strongest team in Spain’s first division in terms of expected-goal differential at +16.3, which trails Barcelona (+32.0 xGDiff), Real Sociedad (+21.4 xGDiff) and Real Madrid (+20.9 xGDiff) in the category.
Dinamo Zagreb captured a 2-0 victory at last-place Lokomotiva in the Croatian top flight last time out. Zagreb is in first place, with a two-point cushion (and a game in hand) over Osijek.
It’s worth remembering Dinamo Zagreb did take down a big club in the previous round — Tottenham Hotspur — 3-2 on aggregate, winning the second leg by a 3-0 scoreline. However, the club was at home for that second leg and needed extra time to get the third goal. Also, Spurs beat them handily in terms of xG by a combined 3.7-1.3 advantage over the course of the two legs.
To try to put Dinamo Zagreb in a little more perspective, it’s currently No. 67 in FiveThirtyEight’s Global Club Soccer Rankings. The team immediately above them is Norwich City, which is in first place in the Championship — better known as England’s second division. And immediately below Dinamo Zagreb is Freiburg, which sits in 10th place in the Bundesliga.
Valencia, currently 13th in La Liga, is five spots above Dinamo Zagreb. And Huesca, sitting 16th in the Spanish first division, is three spots below it.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Bottom line, Villarreal should win this match. Moreno is tied for second in La Liga with 19 goals this season, behind only Lionel Messi and his 23 goals. And Emery has been hugely successful in this competition, winning it three years in a row with Sevilla and taking Arsenal to the final.
However, I don’t want to pay such a heavy price to back Villarreal. Instead, I’m looking at the total. There was only one goal in the first leg, and it came via a penalty kick. The combined xG of the first match was 2.1, with a third of that coming via the converted penalty.
That said, I’ll say two goals or less here at a better price and back under 2.5 goals as my top selection.
Pick: Total Under 2.5 Goals (-122)