Dinamo Zagreb’s Mislav Orsic runs with the ball during the Europa League round of 16 second leg soccer match between Dinamo Zagreb and Tottenham Hotspur at the Maksimir stadium in Zagreb, Croatia, March 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
- Thursday’s clash is a rare encounter as these two sides meet for just the second time in European club competition
- Zagreb will be riding an emotional high after a win over Tottenham, while Villarreal is favored to advance
- Read on for a full preview, odds, and the best bet for Thursday’s Europa League quarterfinal encounter
Reaching the last eight of a European competition once again has been a long time coming for Dinamo Zagreb. The 21-time winner of the Croatian league went the distance in the last round, dispatching Tottenham Hotspur in extra time to reach a first continental quarterfinal since 1970 when it was knocked out of the Cup Winners’ Cup by Schalke.
The team it meets at this stage, beginning with Thursday’s first leg in Zagreb, is in its fourth Europa League quarterfinal in the last 11 seasons. Villarreal, who is the -103 favorite for the match, has moved on to the semifinals in two of its previous three appearances at this stage, and is unbeaten in its last ten Europa League matches outside of Spain.
Dinamo Zagreb vs Villarreal Odds
|Dinamo Zagreb vs Villarreal||DZ +1.0 (-265) | VIL -1.0 (+205)||DZ +290 | VIL -103
|Ov 2.5 (+133) | Un 2.5 (-165)|
Odds as of Apr 7
To say these two clubs likely know little about each other is something of an understatement. The two sides met in just one other campaign, being drawn together in the Europa League group stage in the 2010-11 season. Dinamo won the first game at home 2-0, before Villarreal got a measure of revenge in the return fixture, winning 3-0 in Spain on its way to an ultimate appearance in the semifinal that year.
🟡 Gerard Moreno has 12 goal involvements in his last 6 games in all competitions (7G, 5A) 🔥
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) April 6, 2021
And while Villarreal has the comfort of having won its last ten Europa League games outside of Spain, it must be noted that it has never won a game in Croatia, with the two previous games against Zagreb representing the only fixtures it has played against Croatian opposition.
Mislav Oršić vs Spurs
4 Shots on Target
2/5 Dribbles Completed
25/38 Passes Completed
8 Duels won
A direct and aggressive performance that dragged Dinamo Zagreb to a historic win vs a Spurs team that was tipped to be favourites to win the Europa League. pic.twitter.com/IGUcCRULo1
— Fútbol Idealists (@FutbolIdealists) March 18, 2021
Dinamo, meanwhile, has played ten games against Spanish teams, losing eight of them. In fact, that 2010 win against Villarreal remains its lone victory against Spanish clubs.
Dinamo Dominant At Home
Stadio Maksimir has proved to be something of a fortress for Dinamo Zagreb, both in domestic and continental competition. The club is unbeaten in its last 14 Europa League home games, winning 11 of them and scoring 29 goals. And including the Champions League, the team has lost just one of its last 17 games at home, falling 4-1 to Manchester City in last season’s group stage.
In the Croatian league, Dinamo has lost just three home games in the past three seasons including this one, although two of those defeats have come this season, from 14 games played at Stadio Maksimir.
Villarreal Heavy On Experience
The Yellow Submarine knows all about the Europa League – with 83 matches under its belt, it has contested more than any other club in this competition, despite the fact it has never won it. The club has also won five straight matches in all competitions, including its pair of 2-0 victories home and away to eliminate Dynamo Kyiv in the last round of the Europa League. And it sits sixth in La Liga after its 3-0 away win at Granada last weekend.
— LaLiga English (@LaLigaEN) April 3, 2021
Villarreal is also unbeaten against non-Spanish opposition in its last 19 European games, winning 13 of those.
The Gulf In Coaching Experience
But if breaking through in the Europa League is what the club craves, it has the right manager in Unai Emery. In his first season in charge of Villarreal, Emery has won this competition on three straight occasions with Sevilla, and also took Arsenal to the final in 2018. And with 88 games coached in the Europa League, Emery is the most experienced coach in the tournament’s history, and it has shown this season with Villarreal, with Emery presiding over the only unbeaten team in this year’s competition.
Unai Emery has managed in 20 two-legged knockout ties in the Europa League since 2012, across three different clubs. He has won all 20 of those knockout ties.
— Colin Millar (@Millar_Colin) March 19, 2021
Dinamo’s Damir Krznar, on the other hand, will be taking charge of just his fourth game as a head coach, having been promoted to the top job just before the second leg against Spurs.
Dinamo Zagreb vs Villarreal Stats
|7-1-2||2020-21 Europa League Record (W-L-D)||9-0-1|
Orsic Eyes More Success
Dinamo’s Mislav Orsic’s hat-trick was enough to see off Tottenham and he will be hoping to build on that, having now scored 12 goals in 26 European matches for the club. Fellow forward Bruno Petkovic was also important against Spurs, but he may miss out on Thursday with a shoulder injury and may be replaced by Mario Gavranovic.
Villarreal has few injury concerns and will be looking for more of the balanced scoring that has guided them through this season’s competition, with 11 different players finding the net so far.
Best Bet: Villarreal -1.0 (+205)
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For the last 20 years, Paul Attfield has worked in sports media. Starting out in his native Britain with the likes of The Independent, he eventually switched continents, with his work appearing in the likes of the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and Yahoo Sports since.