Villarreal take on Leganes in the early kickoff on Sunday (noon in Spain, 3AM in California!).
Our team: Victor Ruiz and Jaume Costa are suspended; Àlvaro, Adrián Marín and Daniele Bonera all were left off our squad on Thursday so they would be fresh for this one. Castillejo and Cheryshev are injured, and now Nicola Sansone has joined the infirmary list.
Expect Bakambu, Bacca and our usual midfield four of late (Rodri, Trigueros, Fornals, Soriano).
Leganés: After a sparkling start to the season, the blue and whites have regressed a bit, but it’s still worth noting that at home they are a tough nut to crack. They’ve won two, drawn two, lost two at home; their defense is great (five goals allowed in six matches, three of those by Barcelona) but their attack is even worse (only three goals scored).
They typically play a 4-2-3-1, though last time (on the road against Celta) they tried a 4-4-2. Alexander Szymanowski is their left winger—he scored 8 goals a year ago and is one of three players with two this season. Ex-Malaga man Nordin Amrabat is on loan from Watford, and Nabil El Zhar (ex Levante) is another Moroccan player featuring with them. They have an ex-Barcelona B midfielder, Gerard Gumbau, too.
Overall, it’s a group with a lot of league experience, but melding them together into an attacking unit seems to be a bit problematic. Defense, they’ve got down.
Last year only Granada scored fewer goals than Leganés; their defense was middling, and they finished four points above the drop zone. They’ll cause teams trouble this season as long as they defend well, and realistically, as long as Leganés remain in the Primera, the season will be considered a success.
All-time record: We played them in the Segunda in the 1990’s; last year was the first time the two teams had faced each other since 2000, and this fixture (which was also jornada 14 last season) finished 0-0. What a surprise. Counting Segunda matches and the 1999-2000 Copa del Rey, we’re 3-3-2 against Leganés away, 4-1-3 at home.
Prediction: This has 0-0 written all over it, doesn’t it? Though I’m not sure Javi Calleja does 0-0. Let’s go for 0-2 to Villarreal.