Villarreal vs. Atalanta Odds, Picks, Prediction: Can La Dea Sink Mighty Yellow Submarine in UCL Clash? (Sept. 14)

Villarreal vs. Atalanta Odds, Picks, Prediction: Can La Dea Sink Mighty Yellow Submarine in UCL Clash? (Sept. 14) article feature image
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Nicolò Campo/LightRocket via Getty Images. Pictured: Duvan Zapata

  • Serie A side Atalanta takes on Spanish outfit Villarreal in Tuesday's Champions League action.
  • The Italian club, who are the slightest underdog on the moneyline, hope their press can lead to scoring opportunities.
  • Anthony Dabbundo takes a look at this matchup below and explains why he's backing Atalanta to get a result.

Villarreal vs. Atalanta Odds

Villarreal Odds +145
Atalanta Odds +180
Draw +265
Over/Under 2.5 (-140 / +110)
Day | Time Tuesday | 3 p.m. ET
How To Watch Paramount+ | fuboTV
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

One thing that makes the Champions League really special is the contrasting style matchups that form between two teams from different leagues with different philosophies and play styles.

There’s no better example of this than Tuesday’s match between Atalanta and Villarreal. The Champions League group stage begins with a matchup that will be critical for deciding who advances out of Group F.

Atalanta, managed by Gian Piero Gasperini, are the among the favorites of the soccer analytics and hipster community because of their commitment to attacking football and an analytical approach of finding rejects from other clubs to produce a winning team in Serie A.

The boys from Bergamo have become a Champions League mainstay despite a tiny operating budget and were minutes from the semifinal in 2020 before a late collapse against European giant Paris Saint-Germain.

Villarreal, managed by Unai Emery, are a ruthless tournament team. They won the Europa League in May after grinding their way to the title with a very conservative approach. They are difficult to break down defensively and have two solid attacking forwards to run their attack through.

The matchup of contrasting styles makes this one of the most interesting games on Tuesday’s card, along with the matchup of European giants Bayern Munich and Barcelona.

In this matchup, despite Villarreal’s usually excellent defense, the wrong team is favored. Atalanta’s ability to pressure the Yellow Submarine’s back line and develop periods of sustained pressure makes them undervalued in this matchup of contrasting styles.

Villarreal: The Sturdy Yellow Submarine

The Yellow Submarine were excellent in the Europa League last season against Arsenal and Manchester United, two teams that love to have defensive possession and struggled to break down low blocks. They allowed two goals in three total games against those two sides, winning the Europa League semifinals and finals over the two English sides, respectively.

Emery has an established style of play against bigger sides that has worked well for them in tournament play, and I’m sure that they’ll frustrate Manchester United yet again in group play. But a matchup with Atalanta is very different. And Villarreal have been awful in La Liga this season.

They’ve managed three draws, but Villarreal has the third worst xG difference in the division. They’ve created just 2.2 xG and conceded 4.0. They have the seventh fewest attacking penalty area touches and seventh most touches allowed in their own area.

This is the Yellow Submarine’s first game back from the two week international break, which gives Atalanta an edge in terms of cohesiveness and match fitness as well. They’ve played like a bottom half team in Spain through three matches against Atlético Madrid, Granada and Espanyol. It’s much more likely that they’re in the midst of an actual drop-off in performance than Atalanta is.

Atalanta: All Systems Go for Serie A Side

Atalanta suffered a 2-1 setback at home against Fiorentina in the league on Saturday, a third consecutive mediocre performance in Serie A to begin the year. La Dea had various players come back late from the offseason due to Euros and Copa America obligations. They haven’t had their three best attacking shot getters — Josip Iličić, Duván Zapata and Luis Muriel — all available for a single game this season.

Overall, Atalanta is still sixth in Serie A in xG difference because their defense has actually improved since adding Merih Demiral to replace the loss of Cristian Romero in central defense. Betting on Atalanta to sort out their early-season attacking issues is a pretty good bet, especially since they’ve only gotten four games worth of minutes from that attacking trio.

We saw at the Euros how good Atalanta’s fullbacks are in Robin Gosens and Joakim Maehle. They will be the key to unlocking this Villarreal defense, as the Yellow Submarine can be vulnerable to crossing from wide areas. Gosens and Maehle are also important for periods of sustained pressure, as Atalanta is one of the best teams in the world at using its center backs and fullbacks to provide overloads in wide attacking areas and in the attacking channels.

The Atalanta press is still extremely effective, with a 36% successful pressure rate, highest in Serie A by three percent. They should be able to press and force Villarreal into mistakes, then eventually find the breakthrough.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

There’s a pretty solid shot this game does end in a draw, given that Atalanta is on the road and probably would settle for that result given their aim to advance from the group. But if there’s a winner, my projections think it’s more likely to be Atalanta.

La Dea has had a sluggish start to the Serie A campaign, but Villarreal has been even worse in La Liga and the defensive regression appears to be real for the Yellow Submarine. We’ve seen Atalanta start slow before and rebound quickly to return to their peak attacking form.

With their full attacking corps available, La Dea is good on value on the Draw No Bet line.

Pick: Atalanta — Draw No Bet (+110)

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