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Preview: Granada vs. Villarreal

One away win, one home defeat in La Liga. Ahead of Thursday’s daunting full-on return to Europe, Villarreal aims to take three points for the first time at Estadio Nuevo Los Cármenes. Key injuries will shape the lineups for both sides.

About time for Jona's debut in yellow!
About time for Jona's debut in yellow!
Stanley Chou

After defeating a team that Villarreal should in Levante, then losing to a team that Villarreal should (I suppose) in Barcelona, the Yellow Submarine is back to its league. Away to Granada has been a challenge for the boys in yellow, but at least this time Ikechukwu Uche is unavailable to score against his employer. Joaquín Caparrós is now the manager of the Andalusians, so expect a somewhat sordid affair.

The hosts. Granada will muck it up with prototypical central midfielders and a physical defensive unit. What remains to be seen is the balance between Caparrós' penchant for defensive solidity and the skill and speed which Granada has accumulated in recent transfer markets. The loss of Moroccan international Youssef El-Arabi may provide a start for Alfredo Ortuño, the older brother of prolific former Villarreal B striker Juanto. Nigerian youth international Isaac Success - on loan from Udinese of course - will lead the line in what may be closer to a 4-2-3-1.

The visitors. Speaking of a 4-2-3-1, Villarreal will be without leading strikers Giovani dos Santos and the aforementioned Uche. So Marcelino García Toral will provide Luciano Vietto, Gerard Moreno, or both (unlikely) with a debut start in La Liga. And no Bojan Jokic (for a few months) or Jaume Costa (for a few weeks), so at age seventeen, Adrian Marín will be thrown into the fire at left back. At least Jonathan dos Santos is back to match fitness!

My expected Villarreal XI: Asenjo; Mario, Musacchio, Gabriel, Marín; Manu, Bruno; Cani, Cheryshev, Espinosa; Vietto.

My expected Villarreal bench: J. Carlos; Ruiz, Rukavina; J. dos Santos, Moi, Pina; Gerard.

Prediction. 1-1. This is a hard match to predict given the depleted squads, but I'll say that Granada scores from a set piece and Bruno from the spot.

The match begins at 3 pm Eastern Time and airs on BeIN Sports en Español. Allen will have the play-by-play. Endavant Villarreal!