A team that attacks down the wings, plays long balls, is strong in the air. That describes Eibar, Alaves and Athletic Club, who between them have handed Villarreal five of their eight losses this season....and it also describes our next opponent, Leganes.
Fortunately, Leganes don’t possess the talent of any of those teams, and after picking up 10 points in their first seven matches, they have struggled mightily to pick up wins. They’ve beaten Depor (twice), Granada (twice), Osasuna and Celta, and that’s it. If they stay up—and it’s not a foregone conclusion, with Sporting five points back and owning the tiebreaker—they can thank those wins against Granada for doing it.
Leganes don’t score much: 12 goals away, 26 overall (last in the league), but their defense on the road has gotten better. They drew 1-1 with Sevilla and Real Sociedad; they lost 2-1 to Barcelona; they only lost 1-0 to Valencia. Of course, last road trip they managed to lose to Osasuna 2-1, so....
Alexandre Szymanowski, ex-Recreativo Huelva, ex-Brondby, leads their scoring parade, so to speak, with five goals. (Some of you may remember he scored against Villarreal when playing for Recre in the 2012-13 season).
Adrian Marin is indeed on loan to Leganes, he has not played all that much. I don’t know if he is eligible to play Saturday or if his loan agreement forbids it, but I would not expect him to start anyway.
Villarreal: Victor Ruiz is still suspended, but Soldado is back. And apparently Jonathan dos Santos and Samu Castillejo will return to the squad after injuries. We do have a busy week with a match at Atleti on Tuesday, followed by a home match against Sporting on Friday, so we will probably look to make some changes between those games.
Overall, though, the key is going to be to use our midfield strength to set up opportunities for goals, we’ll hope to draw Leganés out of their shell, play through balls to our strikers and/or use Soldado as a provider as well as a target man.
Prediction: Villarreal 2-0 Leganés.