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Villarreal—Real Betis PREVIEW

Three points for Villarreal would be enormous—and are almost required.

Real Betis Balompie v Villarreal CF - La Liga Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Villarreal host Real Betis at the Ceramica on Sunday. The Yellow Submarine is still looking for its first home win of the season in the league, and take on a Betis side that has had something of a split personality so far this season.

Betis had five clean sheets in their first seven matches of the season, but haven’t had one since. In fact, they’ve allowed three goals in each of their last two matches, but drew 3-3 with Celta and defeated Barcelona 4-3 at the Camp Nou. Those two matches were only the second and third times they’d scored multiple goals in the league (in 12 tries).

Key men? A lot of good players here. Marc Bartra is the central defender in the Betis 3-4-2-1; Guardado, Carvalho, Lo Celso, Firpo, the ageless Joaquin in midfield; Sergio Canales, finally showing the form he did with Racing Santander ages ago, is one of the two attackers who plays just behind the forward at the top of the spear, Loren Morón. And Pau Lopez, who came over from Espanyol, is decent in goal for sure.

In fact, looking at their squad, you’d think they ought to be higher than their 13th position. But, rather like Villarreal, while they average nearly 14 shots per match, they’re only averaging one goal per game.

Villarreal, then. 15 shots per match, but less than a goal per encounter to show for it. The Submarine has been creating chances, but can’t finish them off, while at the other end, goals have been gifted through individual errors on occasion and—as usual—we have been committing too many fouls in dangerous areas and then don’t defend well against the set piece.

Coach Calleja appears to have received the backing of team and front office in spite of our lowly, just above the relegation zone position, with the feeling being we ought to be higher up the table than we are. Well, sure. But we haven’t won in six league matches, and our next game is against Barcelona in the Camp Nou. So guys, we need a win.

We know Carlos Bacca and Daniele Bonera are available to play; we think Mario Gaspar is going to be a centerback in the absence of the suspended Álvaro González, with Miguelon Llambrich playing at right back. We also think players who were on international duty last week (Funes Mori, Samu Chukwueze, Toko Ekambi) are less likely to start. But that’s all we know, because the team call hasn’t been released.

Sr. Llaneza has urged everyone to get behind the team— stop whistling players and show some support—and it’s to be hoped the fans attending do exactly that. It would help for sure.

Prediction: This is a match that on the face of it looks like a score draw, with two teams that are better on paper than their record indicates. Betis are coming off two goalfests, while Villarreal have at least come back late to draw their last two league matches, so aren’t giving up when they get behind.

So, having said that, I’m going to go for a 2-1 home win. Maybe more hope than anything else, but without hope.....