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Marseille vs. Villarreal: Europa League Round of 16 Preview

Marseille thrashed Clermont 5-1 on Saturday in a five-star performance that perfectly prepared them for their Europa League (UEL) Round of 16 tie against Villarreal.

In fact, Marseille’s preparations could not have been better, as this is their third consecutive victory in all competitions, and all three of those victories have been by at least two goals. This shows that OM have a lot of firepower.

It would be brave to bet against this streak continuing, especially as Marseille are unbeaten in their last nine home matches in European knockout ties (8v, 1n). Add to that their ten wins in their last 16 European home matches (4n, 2d), and Marseille have every chance of not only taking a first-leg advantage but also tipping the balance in their favor when it comes to home matches against Spanish clubs (3v, 1n, 3d).

As for Villarreal, they also go into this clash after a 5-1 win last weekend. Their victory over struggling Granada sees them comfortably mid-table in La Liga. With no real fear of relegation and a significant gap to the top six in La Liga to make up, the Group F winners can focus their efforts on the next step in their bid to emulate their 2021 success in this competition.

Having won the first leg in six of their last seven UEL Round of 16 ties (1d), they have a good chance of making another positive start here. The Yellow Submarine are also no strangers to winning on their travels in this competition, having won seven of their last ten away UEL matches (2n, 1d), although they have only scored more than twice in two of those games.

Players to watch: Ismaïla Sarr scored the goal that took Marseille through to this stage of the competition in the previous round – his third consecutive goal to come after the 70th minute. Alexander Sørloth, who will be hoping to have a similar impact, has scored two decisive goals in the UEL this season and scored a hat-trick at the weekend.

Hot stat: Marseille have scored at least twice in five of their last six UEL home matches.

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