Atalanta vs Villarreal Odds: Back Freuler to be among the cards in Italy
All eyes will be on Group F during Wednesday's final round of Champions League fixtures. Not because of Man Utd - who have already secured qualification as leaders with one game to spare - but due to the second place spot that remains up for grabs. Will it be Atalanta who make it to the knockout stages for the fourth time in five seasons under Gian Piero Gasperini's tenure? Or can Unai Emery steer his Villarreal team to their first UCL round of 32 clash since the 08/09 campaign?
Neither has dazzled on the European stage quite like last season - Atalanta reaching the last 16 of this very competition and Villarreal experiencing Europa League glory for the first time in the club's history. Just a point separates the two heading into the tie on Italian soil, making it a must win for the Black and Blues and a can't lose for the Yellow Submarine.
The home side are massive favourites in this one, priced up as short as 8/11 with some bookmakers, while the visitors go in carrying underdog status, with a win for the La Liga outfit as generous as 7/2 with SBK and Betfred.
Atalanta vs Villarreal Tips
Atalanta vs Villarreal Odds
First up is Atalanta's industrial midfielder Remo Freuler to receive his first booking in this year's Champions League campaign. The Swiss international is a regular starter in this Atalanta team, having made 13 appearances in Serie A (11 starts) and featuring in all five UCL games thus far, playing a combined total of 438 minutes in the competition.
Freuler was booked twice across three caps for his country during 2020's Nations League competition, and has already racked up four cautions in Serie A this term.
Shockingly, despite committing the third highest number of fouls among his teammates, he's yet to be entered into the referee's book in this current European stint, but Wednesday could well change that.
The opposition have had at least one central midfield-based player booked in Villarreal's last two UCL ties, with Donny Van de Beek, Vincent Sierro and Michel Aebischer all being penalised for fouls against the Spanish outfit.
Given the dynamic of the game, there is the possibility of frustration setting in for Atalanta if things aren't going their way, or the chance that Freuler will have to make a cynical challenge in the middle of the park to prevent Emery's men from hurting them on the counter attack.
All signs point to this one ending as a draw. Villarreal hold the power knowing that a draw is good enough to see them through. Atalanta, on the other hand, must win, which will play right into the away side's hands. The foundations of this Emery side are built on defensive structure and being able to withstand sustained attacks from their opposition. And even though they haven't been as sound in this department in the 2021/22 season, the hosts will have to go for it, leaving themselves exposed at times.
Villarreal have had a tough time of it in La Liga this campaign, residing in 13th place after 15 games. Of these, they've drawn seven which really has been their undoing. They've lost five which is only one more than 3rd place Real Betis which is proof that converting draws into wins has been a major problem for them.
As for Atalanta, they've drawn a quarter of the 16 Serie A games they've played so far. This is in addition to their last two fixtures in this competition ending with honours even, leaving them on three draws from five matches in the UCL - including when these two sides met during the first gameweek.
When it comes to BTTS, on three out of five occasions in Europe this season, Villarreal's matches have seen both teams score. This is bumped up to four times from a possible five for Atalanta, which features the 2-2 thriller the pair played out back in September.
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