Villarreal enter their last league match of 2016 a bit banged-up; Musacchio, Bonera and Rukavina are missing in defense, while Cheryshev, Castillejo and Bakambu join Soldado on the list of injured attackers. The team call is:
- Keepers: Asenjo y Barbosa.
- Defenders: Mario, José Ángel, Jaume Costa, Víctor Ruiz y Álvaro.
- Midfielders: N’Diaye, Bruno, Rodrigo, Trigueros, Jonathan dos Santos, Soriano y Leo Suárez (dorsal 49).
- Strikers: Pato, Sansone, Santos Borré y Mario González (dorsal 39).
Sporting Gijón: They generally play a 5-4-1 with Duje Cop as the 1, and Villarreal loanee Moi Gomez on the left-hand side of the 4 and veteran Carlos Carmona on the right.
Sporting are 3-1-3 at home, not bad, but two of those were the first two home matches of the season (Leganes and Athletic Club). Their only other win came last time out, 3-1 over Osasuna. The 5-4-1 at least lets them keep things fairly tight, and Villarreal might have a tough time getting through.
Ndi, Lillo, Carlos Castro and Alberto Lora are all out for Sporting.
History: We have a good record overall against Sporting, 10-2-4, including a 2-1-2 record at El Molinon in the Primera. Of course the second of those losses came last season in the last match of the year, and resulted not only in Sporting staying up, but (if some reports are to be believed) cost Marcelino his job, as he fielded a weakened team that hardly practiced during the week.
Prediction: I’d love to say an away win, but we typically are terrible in early kickoffs, and our long injury list is a concern. So I’ll go with 1-1.