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Villarreal-Celta Vigo PREVIEW: Giuseppe Rossi returns to El Madrigal

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One of our most popular players returns to face his old team in a match that will tell us a lot about both teams’ chances to finish high in the table this year

Villarreal host Celta Vigo on Sunday in the newly refurbished El Madrigal (I guess we can still call it that for now, its renaming is supposedly imminent).

These two clubs have had a number of exciting matches since Celta returned to the Primera. in the last three years Villarreal has won two, lost two and drawn two against the Galicians, and both losses have come in Vila-real. Last year we lost 2-1 to a Nolito goal in injury time after playing most of the second half with ten men, Eric Bailly sent off just after halftime.

Celta Vigo: The celeste had a slow start to the season; in part due to the schedule (Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid back-to-back), but surprisingly lost to Leganés and drew with Osasuna. Since then, though, they’ve rebounded nicely, with wins over Sporting, Espanyol and, of course, Barcelona.

Nolito is no longer with them, of course, and Fabian Orellana has been injured, though he is available for this one. John Guidetti is definitely out, so too Pablo Hernandez. Celta do have Villarreal legend Giuseppe Rossi on loan from Fiorentina, and he is expected to start for the Sky Blues. It will be very strange to see him in an opposition shirt.

Celta tend to outpossess their opponents, they get off a dozen shots or so per match. And since they’ve already played the big three and gotten three points from three matches, they have to be looking at this match as an opportunity to move up the table and show their bona fides.

Villarreal: As for the home side, we’re coming off a fairly lackluster, defensive goalless draw against Espanyol, if you can remember that far back before the international break. Surely we’ll manage more than the five shots we had in that match...at least, we’d better.

Jonathan dos Santos is likely out; expect Villarreal to go back to the 4-4-2 with Sansone and Pato up front.

Prediction and comments: A key for Villarreal is going to be attacking width. Celta will clog the middle in their 4-2-3-1 so Villarreal will have to be good at spreading the ball around to the wings—Soriano and Castillejo. Celta need to get Sisto and Aspas in dangerous positions and Orellana, if he comes on, will be a key player in spreading the ball around too.

Last year Celta had 60% of the possession—admittedly with a man advantage for half the match—but really didn’t do all that much with it. I expect the possession stat to be more equal, and it could be a mistake or a brilliant pass decides this one. 2-1 to Villarreal.