Europa League: Villarreal, Besiktas Search for Key Wins


The Europa League is back this Thursday with an array of key games posing much intrigue for fans. Here, Kevin Kelly previews four Europa League games which could go a long way in determining the outcome of the group stages. 

Villarreal vs. Dinamo Minsk

Villarreal welcome Dinamo Minsk to El Madrigal on Thursday as the Yellow Subarmine search of consecutive wins in the  Europa League.

Villarreal will look to get achieve two wins on the bounce in their Europa League Group E campaign following the 1-0 victory at home to Viktoria Plzen in their last match.

However, an opening day 2-1 loss away to Rapid Vienna resulted in immediate pressure for Marcelino Garcia Toral’s men, with dropping point at home to Dinamo now unfathomable, should they harbour hopes of a smooth qualification in the coming months.

Notably, Villarreal have won all four of their previous games against Belarusian teams, scoring nine goals combined in their two home victories.

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Forward Leo Baptistao will be seen as a pivotal player in this tie, having already scored twice for Villareal in qualification.

In terms of team news the likes of Mateo Pablo Musacchio, Sergio Asenjo and Adrian have all recently returned to training, while there may be a chance Bruno Soriano is also passed fit to take part in Thursday’s clash.

Dinamo Minsk meanwhile are seen as the big underdogs for this clash, with bookmakers predicting the Belarusians to looks by at least two goals.

Dinamo began their Europa League Group E campaign with 2-0 loss away to Viktoria Plzen, and followed it up by another loss – this time 1-0 at home to Rapid Vienna.

Hopes for qualification now seem very dim for Dinamo, who in Villarreal now face their toughest opponent in the group, away from home.

Dinamo Minsk’s only encounters to date with Spanish clubs were a pair of draws against Real Sociedad in the 1987/88 European Cup Winners’ Cup second round.

Villarreal vs. Dinamo Minsk Match Prediction

Villarreal will have no trouble dispatching with the Belarusians on Thursday night. The Spanish side, who despite a loss on the weekend to Celta Vigo, have spent the season in the top of the table amongst the like of Barcelona and Real Madrid, displaying their renewed quality and belief in recent seasons.

Lokomotiv Mosvka vs. Besiktas

Lokomotiv Mosvka will be the hosts for Besiktas in an intriguing Europa League Group H match on Thursday. 

Lokomotiv Mosvka, who sit top of Group H, will be hoping to extend their lead at the top with another win against Besiktas on Thursday, following consecutive wins to begin their current European quest.

The Russian outfit, who are currently 2nd in the Russian Premier League on 27 points after 12 games, began their Europa campaign with an impressive 3-1 win away to Sporting CP, then followed it up by a run-of-the-mill 2-0 win at home to Skenderbeu.

Notably, Lokomotiv’s record in six games against Turkish sides is W2 D1 L3 (W1 D0 L2 at home – W1 D1 L1 in Turkey).

Lokomotiv have successfully negotiated two of their previous three UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League group stage campaigns.

Besiktas meanwhile sit 2nd in Group H on four point following an opening day win and then a stalemate.

Their first game the Turkish outfit took on the Albanian minnows Skenderbeu away form home, and left with a slender 1-0 win. Following that, Lokomotiv were held to a 1-1 draw at home to the Primeira Liga leaders Sporting CP.

Beşiktaş’s seven encounters with Russian teams ended W3 D1 L3 (W2 D1 L1 in Istanbul – W1 D0 L2 in Russia).

Beşiktaş made it through last season’s UEFA Europa League group stage unbeaten, then eliminated Liverpool FC on penalties before succumbing to Club Brugge KV.

Lokomotiv Mosvka vs. Besiktas Match Prediction

Thursday poses an opportunity for Lokomotiv to spread the gap between them and Besiktas – the likely side to come 2nd in Group H.

However, should Besiktas negotiate their way to a draw on Thursday, then the likelihood of winning the group would remain eminently possible.