Our prediction for this Europa League match:
Villarreal will be looking to cement top position in Group I when they welcome Qarabag at their Estadio de la Ceramica on Thursday evening. The Yellow Submarine are undefeated in the Europa League group stages, but they surely want to finish the process in style. The likes of Bacca, Gomez, and Alberto Moreno remain in the recovery room, but key attacker Paco Alcacer is fit to face Qarabag.
The Azeri, on the other hand, have collected only one point in total in the Europa League group stages this term, and it is no wonder bookies seem them as underdogs in Thursday’s clash. Regardless of which Villarreal players will be deployed in the starting XI, home win should be considered as the Yellow Submarine have turned their Estadio de la Ceramica into a real fortress. When the two teams met in Israel earlier in the process Villarreal outplayed Qarabag 3-1.
Highlighted Player (Ramiro Funes Mori):
Argentina isn’t known to produce great talents in defence but Ramiro Jose Funes Mori is an exception. The 25-year-old started his football career in the United States with FC Dallas. He won an MLS talent competition to get into their youth team but it was less than a year before he moved back to Argentina.
Mori joined River Plate as a youth player in 2008 and progressed to their senior team within three years. The young defender is nothing short of a club legend at River Plate having won six titles with the team. More than the titles and his performances, it was his performances in important games that is still vividly remembered.
His iconic goal against Boca Juniors is still part of the folklore. Mori joined English Premier League club Everton in 2015 and soon established himself as a regular there. Mori represented Argentina seven times and yet to score in national colors.
Highlighted Team (Qarabag):
Over the years Qarabag have established themselves as one of the best teams in Azerbaijan. The club was founded in 1951 and they were playing under the name of Mehsul back then. Qarabag won their first trophy in the national championship in 1993, beating Khazar Sumgayit in the title game.
In the 2015/2016 season they won their fourth domestic trophy, with the team finishing the season 22 points clear of second-placed Zira. Qarabag participated in the 2016/2017 Champions League qualifiers, but they were more than unfortunate to suffer a loss to Viktoria Plzen in the two-legged tie. The Azerbaijan outfit were beaten by the Czechs on away goal rule and, as a result, they made it to the Europa League playoffs.
Thanks to a win over Goteborg in the double-header Qarabag made it to the knockout stages of the competition. The Horsemen play their home games at Azersun Arena and their home colours are black. Qarabag play their away games in white kits.