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Preview: Villarreal vs. Real Sociedad

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Now we’re talking! The Yellow Submarine is in form and looking to solidify its European position against another preseason aspirant for the top 6 in Real Sociedad. But David Moyes’ men are right now trying to escape a surprise relegation dogfight. Sounds familiar…

No stopping Vietto right now.
No stopping Vietto right now.
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

The txuri-urdin are sympathetic visitors to Estadio El Madrigal. Hard to hate a club with such a rich tradition and that we defeated twice last year. Sure, they knocked us out of the Copa del Rey, but so has Polideportivo Ejido...and look who our round of 16 opponents might be this year.

The visitors. It starts and ends with once-and-future Mexican international Carlos Vela. His talent is unquestioned by even Villarreal's nemesis Arsene Wenger, but his commitment got him the boot from English football and El Tri (for a time). A hat trick against Eibar is a glimpse of what he can do, but Giovani dos Santos overshadowed him in last season's league encounters. Maybe it's the turn of the younger dos Santos?

The loss of Antoine Griezmann has been huge for the Basques, as Chory Castro is not a patch on the Frenchman. The Villarreal faithful may get its first glimpse of rumored summer target Alfred Finnbogason, but in blue and white instead of yellow. Unsurprisingly the Icelandic international is finding La Liga a tougher ask than the Eredivisie, but La Real's record signing should have every chance to come good. The hosts can still take advantage of a questionable back four though.

The hosts. No Gio, but red-hot Luciano Vietto should return up front (now a wise old man at age 21!). Same for the other players omitted midweek, including the return of the Manu Trigueros / Bruno Soriano pairing in the doble pivote. Jaume Costa and Mario Gaspar will have their hands full this week. Denis Cheryshev will again be the key provider.

My expected Villarreal XI: Asenjo; Mario, Ruiz, Gabriel, Costa; Manu, Bruno; Moi, Cheryshev; Vietto, Uche.

My expected Villarreal bench: J. Carlos; Dorado, Rukavina; Espinosa, J. dos Santos, Pina; Gerard.

Prediction. 2-1. La Real is obviously better than its place in the standings. But form should carry the hosts through to hold onto sixth place.

The match begins at 1 pm Eastern Time and airs on BeIN Sports en Español. Keep it locked here for the match. Endavant Villarreal!