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Villarreal x Espanyol : Zero margin for error.

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Marco Ruben - Target man
Marco Ruben - Target man

After two good results against Real Madrid (Home) and Rayo Vallecano (Away), Villarreal faces Espanyol at home. Zaragoza had another late comeback to win their 3rd consecutive game and take 10 of 12 points in the last 4 games. They were dead in 20th a month ago but are just 3 points behind Villarreal and own the head-to-head tiebreaker with Villarreal. So, a win is a must for Villarreal to keep relegation zone at bay.

Espanyol seem to be doing their usual disappearing act in the 2nd half of the season. The had 3 losses and a draw in their last 6 games. Los Pericos have never took a point at El Madrigal. The game at Cornella ended in a 0-0 draw where Villarreal couldnt convert a man advantage for more than 30 min into a win.

Espanyol under Mauricio Pochettino have made great strides. They are one of the few clubs in La Liga that tries to balance its books. It means they are forced to sell some of their best young talent almost every season. Not the ideal situation but the club's youth system has produced some great young talent over the years.

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Match-ups

Espanyol generally play the La Liga's typical 4-2-3-1 formation. On loan winger Felipe Countinho of Inter has been one of the brightest spots of Espanyol ever since he moved to Spain in the January transfer window. Another January acquisition, Kalu Uche has been scoring the goals too. Man City's Vladimir Weiss has been very impressive most of this season. Joan Verdu, Romaric provide the experience and the backbone to this otherwise young team.

Weiss & Coutinho Vs Villarreal's fullbacks

This match-up will determine how this game will play out. These two wingers are fast and skillful. Joan Oriol had all kinds of trouble with Lass in the 2nd half against Rayo. He will have his hands full with Coutinho in this game.

Midfield

Bruno will once again be matched-up with the playmaker of the opposition, Joan Verdu in this case. For Espanyol to get anything out of this game, they will need win this battle along with Coutinho and/or Weiss having a great game.

Keys for Villarreal

1. Fullbacks stay out of card trouble and dont give up cheap fouls
2. Borja & Cani to control the possession taking Joan Verdu out of the game
3. Strikers Ruben and Martinuccio take their chances.


Likely Lineups

Villarreal 4-4-2

Lopez; Oriol-Zapata-Musacchio-Mario;Bruno-Senna; Cani-Borja;Ruben-Martinuccio

Espanyol 4-2-3-1

Casilla;Didac-Forlin-Rodriguez-Lopez;Baena-Romaric;Coutinho-Verdu-Weiss;Uche

Conclusion:

Zaragoza, Granada & Betis' wins leave no margin for error for Villarreal. 3 points are a must. I expect a very keenly contested game with Villarreal giving it all to get all the 3 points

Endavant Villarreal