Villarreal aim to ‘change the story’ in Europa League return leg


MADRID, May 5 (Xinhua) — Spanish La Liga side, Villarreal travel to London on Thursday looking to end their semifinal heartbreak and qualify for the final of the Europa League.

Villarreal took a narrow 2-1 lead to Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium after last week’s first leg, which saw the Spanish side cruise into a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Manu Trigueros and Raul Albiol, before a questionable penalty scored by Nicolas Pepe 17 minutes from time gave Arsenal a vital away goal for the return leg.

Now Villarreal need to end their semifinal jinx if they are to book a place in the final against Manchester United or Roma.

In 2004 Villarreal lost the UEFA Cup semifinal to Valencia, before losing to Arsenal in the 2006 Champions League semifinal. In 2011 Porto knocked them out of the semis of the Europa League and in 2016 Liverpool did the same, while Arsenal also beat the Spanish side in the quarterfinal of the Champions League in 2009.

Etienne Capoue is out of the return leg after being sent off for two yellow cards a week ago, while defender Juan Foyth misses out through injury.

That should see Mario Gaspar come in at right back for Foyth, while former Arsenal midfielder Francis Coquelin could play in midfield against his former club.

Villarreal coach Unai Emery, who is returning to the Emirates for the first time since he was sacked by Arsenal in November 2019, will also make a change in goal and continue with his policy of playing Geronimo Rulli ahead of Sergio Asenjo in cup competitions.

Albiol and Alfonso Pedraza will make up the defense along with Pau Torres, who is the subject of a motivational video the club made for its supporters ahead of the game. Local boy Torres recalls he was a fan in the stands in both the 2006 and 2009 defeats to Arsenal and ended up crying in his seat.

“Now is the time to change the story,” says the video and this time the team known as the ‘Yellow Submarine” aims to continue afloat and finally make it to a final. Enditem


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