Villarreal are in form, and it's always wise to back Unai Emery in the Europa League. Kevin Hatchard believes Dinamo Zagreb's UEL heroics have come to an end.
"Villarreal have won home and away against Salzburg and Dynamo Kyiv, and they won't make the same mistake that Tottenham did in Zagreb."
Dinamo Zagreb v Villarreal
Thursday 08 April, 20:00
Live on BT Sport
Spurs win shows what Dinamo can do
European football's history is rammed full of great comeback wins, and Dinamo Zagreb added their name to the roll of honour in the previous round, as they stunned Tottenham. Having lost the first leg 2-0 in North London, they showed heart, desire and quality in the return leg in Croatia. Forward Mislav Orsic, who already had a Champions League triple on his cv, scored a memorable hat-trick in a 3-0 win after extra time, including an individual goal that has to go down as one of his club's greatest ever moments.
Unusually, Dinamo have a genuine fight on their hands for the Croatian league title, with Osijek matching them stride for stride at the top of the standings. They were held to a 1-1 draw by mid-table Sibenik at the weekend, a result that brought to an end a seven-match winning run.
Striker Bruno Petkovic missed the weekend's game with injury, and could miss out here too, which would be a significant blow. Dinamo have no other personnel concerns.
Europa king Emery on track for glory
It's talked about so much that it's become a cliché, but there's no doubt that Villarreal coach Unai Emery has a knack of succeeding in the Europa League, and his passion for the competition is abundantly clear. He won the trophy three times as Sevilla boss, and he reached a final with Arsenal, who he could meet in the semis should the Yellow Submarine overcome Dinamo Zagreb.
After a wobbly spell earlier in the year, Villarreal have moved through the gears. They have won their last five matches in all competitions, and they have scored at least twice in all of those victories. In the Europa League, they breezed through their group unbeaten, and racked up five wins. In the knockout phase, Emery's men have won home and away against a very good Salzburg side, and they have done the same to Dynamo Kyiv.
It always helps to have a striker in form, and Gerard Moreno is having an incredible season. He has smashed in 19 goals in La Liga, and he netted a hat-trick against Granada in a 3-0 at the weekend. He has played his way into the Spain set-up ahead of EURO 2020, and scored for his country against Kosovo in the recent international break.
Left-back Pervis Estupinan and midfielder Vicente Iborra are out with injury, but there are no other concerns.
Villarreal can succeed where Spurs failed
Tottenham played without intensity in the second leg in Zagreb, but I doubt Villarreal will make the same mistake. Emery's passion for the Europa League genuinely seems to rub off on his players, and they have played superbly throughout, whether on the road or at the Ceramica. To beat Salzburg and Dinamo Kyiv twice takes some doing, and the Spanish side certainly won't fear a trip to the Croatian capital.
Dinamo Zagreb shouldn't be underestimated, but they took advantage of lethargy from Tottenham, and they won't find this game so easy. I'll back Villarreal to win at 2.1211/10.
Marvellous Moreno can strike
Gerard Moreno is in incredible form, and has found the net in 11 of his last 16 matches for club and country. He can be backed to score at 2.77/4 here, and I think that's a great price.
On the Dinamo side of things, you can back Mislav Orsic to find the net at 4.3100/30.
Kevin Hatchard 2021 Europa League Knockout P/L
Points Staked: 30
Points Returned: 30.08
P/L: +0.08 points