MADRID, April 17 (Xinhua) -- Valencia are the clear favorites to book a place in the semifinals of the Europa League when they face near neighbors, Villarreal in the Mestalla Stadium on Thursday night.
Two late goals in Villarreal a week ago gave Valencia a 3-1 win in the Estadio de la Ceramica to leave Villarreal needing to score three goals in Mestalla to have any chance of making the last four of the tournament.
Valencia have one of the toughest defenses in Spain and have conceded just three goals in their last home matches, meaning that coach Marcelino Garcia Toral's toughest decision is probably whether he should rest players such as Goncalo Guedes, Jose Gaya, Francios Coquelin, who would miss the first leg of the semifinals if they are booked on Thursday.
Valencia will also be without the injured Geoffrey Kondogbia for the game.
Villarreal bounced back from their Europa League defeat last Thursday with a vital Liga Santander win away to Girona at the weekend. That victory lifted them out of the relegation zone ahead of next weekend's league game at home to Leganes.
Coach Javier Calleja has to decide whether he will give everything for an unlikely fightback in Mestalla or save key players as his side battle to avoid relegation.
He will have midfielder Manu Trigueros and left back Jaume Costa available after injury and may opt to give the pair minutes to allow them to recover their form ahead of the final six league matches of the season.
Valencia had some good news on Tuesday with the confirmation that the club has finally sold Mestalla, which will allow work to resume on their new stadium, which has been left unfinished for the past 10 years due to economic issues.