Forgive me if you have read the following before. Villarreal needs start winning the winnable games. Garrido needs to find solutions. Apart from Rossi, the rest of the core of the team is back from injuries. The injury excuse isnt valid anymore. Real Sociedad, for all their heroics with last minute wins in their last two home games are still a weak side, especially on the defensive side of the ball. It is true that they got a draw against Barça early in the season and played Real Madrid very tough, their away form has been as bad as Villarreal's away form. But there is no doubt that the morale of La Real will be sky-high coming into this game.
Juan Carlos Garrido and the leaders in the Villarreal dressing room need to step up and be counted. A loss or even a draw in this game could signal the beginning of the end for Juan Carlos Garrido as the coach.
Villarreal defence v La Real attack:
The defence of Villarreal has been suspect at best and atrocious at its worst. With Musacchio suspended for accumulation of cards, Zapata will start alongside Gonzalo in the heart of the defence with Ángel at RB and Oriol at LB. Imanol Aguirretxe is a strong center-forward who is very good in the air, the sort of #9 that usually causes havoc in Villarreal defence. Zapata's task is cut out to keep him from getting free headers or second opportunities inside the box. The highly-rated Antoine Griezmann on the wing will be a handful to the fullbacks and Carlos Vela after a slow start is in decent form an scored over the last weekend against Málaga.
The key here for Villarreal is to cut down on errors and keep it tight.
Villarreal attack v La Real defence:
Nilmar & Marco Ruben are most likely to start for Villarreal in a 4-4-2 formation. They will go up against the impressive Iñigo Martinez and Mikel Gonzalez. La Real defence has been one of their weak spots. They have given up 15 goals in 8 away games. This implies Villarreal will get a handful of chances to score. The key is to take advantage of these. The contributions of Cani and Borja Valero in finding spaces and through balls will ultimately determine the outcome.
The midfield battle
Villarreal has a problem in the double-pivot. When he can play Senna is fine but he cant last the full game. Against Real Sociedad they will be up against Elustondo and Xabi Prieto. This will be a fascinating battle.
Villarreal : Diego López César, Mario, Ángel, Zapata, Gonzalo, Joan Oriol Marchena, Marcos Senna, Bruno, De Guzmán, Hernán Pérez, Borja Valero, Cani Camuñas Joselu, Nilmar and Marco Ruben.
Real Sociedad : Bravo, Toño, Carlos Martinez, Mikel Gonzalez, Iñigo Martinez, Estrada, Aranburu, Elustondo, Griezmann, Zurutuza, Carlos Vela, Agirretxe, Cadamuro, Demidov, Mariga, Rubén Pardo, Xabi Prieto, Ifrán.
Villarreal : 4-4-2
López; Ángel-Zapata-Gonzalo-Oriol; Senna-Bruno; Borja-Hernán Pérez; Rubén-Nilmar
Real Sociedad : 4-2-3-1
Bravo; Carlos Martinez-Mikel Gonzalez-Iñigo Martinez-Estrada; Elustondo-Xabi Prieto; Griezmann-Zurutiza-Carlos Vela;Agirretxe.
Prediction: 2-1 home win.
Former Villarreal B team coach Javi Gracía who played at both clubs feels that these two teams have been disappointing and have yet to play to their potential this season. Full interview in Spanish can be found here.