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Villarreal-Eibar PREVIEW

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The push for Europe enters a critical phase.

Villarreal CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Villarreal host Eibar tomorrow knowing that a home win would definitely help our quest for Europe, and might even put some pressure on fourth-placed Atleti.

Eibar: The ‘little Basque team that could’ has been playing some very attractive football this season, and is sure to be in the Primera next year. At the start of the season, that might have been enough, but they would love to qualify for Europe for the first time ever. A loss in this match would put them 10 points behind Villarreal with nine matches to play; win, though, and they keep up the pressure on us.

The international break probably came at a good time for Eibar, as their last six matches have produced one win, two losses, and three draws. Whether that’s just the vagaries of the schedule, fatigue setting in, or just a bit of complacency once survival was assured, not sure.

Villarreal: Daniele Bonera may get a rare start with Alvaro Gonzalez in the heart of our defense, as Victor Ruiz is suspended and Mateo Musacchio just returned from international action in Bolivia with Argentina. Jonathan dos Santos didn’t play in Mexico’s last match, but hasn’t trained with the team for a week either, so Samu Castillejo may take his place. Adrian Lopez and Roberto Soldado returned to training this week, so expect at least one of them to start, probably with Cedric Bakambu.

Coach Escribá admitted today he regretted his decision to push for a winner when we played in Eibar earlier this season, since we got caught on a break and lost 2-1. But, this match promises to be full of action and incident too—it’s just a pity it’s the early kickoff on Saturday.

All-time record: Two home matches in the Primera (1-0 win, 1-1 draw); 6-1-2 at home overall. Eibar last visited Vila-real in November 2015; Sergi Enrich gave them a lead, Dani Garcia missed a penalty that could have made it 2-0, and Jaume Costa scored late to rescue a point.

Prediction: Villarreal 2-1 Eibar.