Villarreal play Real Sociedad in another early kickoff Sunday (what is it with these, we’ve had three in a row!). The big news is that Roberto Soldado returns to the squad for the first time since preseason—great news. The traveling squad is:
- Keepers: Asenjo and Barbosa.
- Defenders: Mario, José Ángel, Jaume Costa, Álvaro, Musacchio y Víctor Ruiz.
- Midfielders: Bruno, Rodrigo, Trigueros, Jonathan dos Santos, Cheryshev and Samu Castillejo.
- Strikers: Soldado, Sansone, Bakambu and Adrián López.
Roberto Soriano is suspended; Andres, Rukavina, Bonera, and Santos Borré miss out through coach’s decision.
Real Sociedad: We do catch a break with Willan José not being in the squad, but Carlos Vela, Xabi Prieto, Zurutuza and Illaramendi all are. Their team call is here.
La Real have been playing well enough of late, grinding out one-goal victories against Celta and Espanyol on the road, and Osasuna at home. And overall, they’ve won 4 of their last 5. The secret to their success has been they only have two draws so far this year. However, the loss of Willan José until at least April will hurt—he has been their leading scorer with nine goals, so it will be up to ex-Malaga man Juanmi and Carlos Vela to pick up the slack. Vela usually plays very well against us, so he is clearly a danger man.
All-time record: Leaving aside the Copa del Rey and focusing only on the league, our record is pretty good. We are 6-5-3 at home, and 6-5-2 on the road. In fact, the last time we lost a league match at Anoeta was August 2010, the first match of the season. We’ve had two wins and two draws since then; last season we won 2-0, Denis Suarez scoring both goals.
Prediction: I expect La Real are going to be a bit off their best form with the Willan injury, and we certainly want to recover from Thursday’s debacle. I’m predicting 1-1. That might not be enough to keep us in sixth depending on how Eibar and Athletic Club do, but I think we would take it just to keep the gap with La Real at 5 points.