Our visitors: Villarreal host Real Sociedad on Sunday. Our visitors have picked up four points from three matches, losing to Real Madrid at home, defeating Osasuna on the road, and drawing 1-1 with Espanyol in their most recent fixture.
The new faces for the visitors are Willian Jose, who officially came through the suspicious Uruguayan side Deportivo Maldonado, but has been on loan really. He played last year at Las Palmas and scored nine goals; Juanmi, who joined from Southampton for €5m, and Rulli, on loan from Manchester City in goal. Some of the old faces—Xabi Prieto, David Zurutuza, Illaramendi—are still around, as is Carlos Vela, though he seems to be seeing little action these days.
Last year La Real finished comfortably mid-table, and there’s no indication they are bound for anything better under coach Eusebio Sacristan, or anything particularly worse.
Villarreal: Dismay over losing out on Champions League riches and the shock of Marcelino’s departure seems to be giving way to the realization that (a) Monaco are really good and we got screwed in the draw and (b) our team is going to do just fine under coach Escribá. We are still missing Cedric Bakambu and Roberto Soldado up front, but everyone else is available.
I’d expect our starting XI to feature Sergio Asenjo, Musacchio, Mario, Jaume Costa, and Manu Trigueros, none of whom played against Zurich on Thursday. Pato went 90 minutes so maybe Santos Borre and Sansone start this time, maybe Roberto Soriano and Samu Castillejo start ahead of Denis Cheryshev and Jonathan dos Santos. There should be a number of changes.
All-time records: Villarreal has an excellent record against La Real in the Primera (11 wins, 10 draws, 5 losses) with a 5-5-3 record at home.
Trivia: Bruno Soriano, assuming he plays, will mark his 250th match in La Liga.
Our last loss at home to Real Sociedad came in April 2006; Xabi Prieto was in the starting lineup for La Real that day, as was former Eibar and current Deportivo manager Gaizka Garitano. Villarreal’s lineup was rather hard to recognize, no surprise when you realize this match was played between the two legs of our Champions League semifinal against Arsenal.
Our last loss to La Real anywhere was week one of the 2010-11 season, which I will always remember as it’s the first match I covered as a manager of this blog.
Prediction: I’m feeling pretty good about this one: Villarreal 3-1 La Real. Santos Borré, Trigueros and Sansone with the goals.