Villarreal v Monaco – Camp El Madrigal at 19:45 live on BT Sport 2 Extra
Two sides who have always been there abouts in the Champions League, as once-upon-a-time semi-finalists Villarreal take on 2004 runners-up AS Monaco at the Camp El Madrigal on Wednesday night.
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Villarreal have not yet played a competitive match of their new campaign under their new manager Fran Escriba, while in pre-season they have only won three of their nine friendlies. Their last match finishing in a 3-2 defeat away to Leganes adding to two more losses to both Porto and Deportivo La Coruna.
In the Champions League, Villarreal have only won one of their last ten in this competition, losing six games on the bounce, while at home they have failed to win their last three. It gets worse though, considering Escriba’s team has failed to score in these three matches.
In the transfer market, the Yellow Submarine have lost two key players in Eric Bailly and Denis Suarez, while Escriba has helped bring in midfielder Roberto Soriano and Nicola Sansone for a combined total of £22 million. Other signings include winger Denis Cheryshev from Real Madrid and Brazilian striker Alexandre Pato from Corinthians.
It’s not looking good in terms of injuries though for Villarreal, as Roberto Soldado is out until February. Johnathan Dos Santos is also sideliend. Victor Ruiz is suspended and Christian Espinoza is at the Olympics.
AS Monaco kicked off their new season on the weekend with a 2-2 draw at home to Guingamp; Fabinho and Bernardo Silva scoring the goals to put the French club tenth in Ligue 1. Yet, in pre-season they have only won three of their last eight.
This will be AS Monaco’s second Champions League play-off match having previously beaten Turkish outfit Fenerbache over two legs 4-3; losing the first leg 2-1 before winning 3-1 at home with Valere Germain scoring a brace.
However, last season the Red and Whites crashed out at this stage of the competition losing over two legs to Valencia 4-3 on aggregate, this includes a 3-1 defeat in Spain.
In the transfer market, the French outfit have been busy strengthening their back-line by signing full-backs Djibril Sidibe and Benjamin Mendy as well as centre-back Kamil Glik for a combined total of £33 million.
Good news for Leonardo Jardim is that Radamel Falcao has returned from his loan spell at Chelsea and he’s managed to keep hold of Joao Moutinho for another season.
Three players sit out injured for Monaco including goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis who is recovering from a rib injury, while Radamel Falcao is also ruled out.
These two sides have never faced each other, yet against clubs based in host countries Villarreal have never lost to a French team in a European competition winning two and drawing two. AS Monaco has won six and lost eight in 18 meetings against Spanish clubs.
I’m expecting a tight game, but I can see Monaco snatching something from this match mainly because Villarreal haven’t played a competitive game yet this season and they have lost key players whilst getting a new manager.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: AS Monaco +0.5 @ 1.90 with Betvictor
Prices correct at time of writing.