Villarreal host Girona at the Ceramica on Friday in a match featuring two teams that haven’t yet won this season. Villarreal coach Calleja has pretty much labeled this a must-win game following our draw in Sevilla, while Girona are coming off a 4-1 loss at home to Real Madrid.
Girona: The Catalan side enjoyed a pretty calm first year in La Liga, finishing in tenth place, but coach Pablo Machin decamped for Sevilla in the summer, and new coach Eusebio Sacristan (formerly with Barca B and Real Sociedad) has changed to a 4-3-3 formation.
There have been some reinforcements over the summer—Marc Muniesa from Stoke on loan, Patrick Roberts on loan from Manchester City—but with Cristian Portu not making this trip and probably being sold tomorrow, one of their goalscorers from last season is likely to be gone. And while Girona still have quality—Alex Granell, Cristian Stuani, Bernardo Espinosa—now that Machin and his unconventional 3-5-2 system have moved on, the task of picking up points is likely to be tougher this season. In fact, Girona began the season with two home matches, so one point from two home games isn’t great.
And yes, Aleix Garcia is still on loan from Man City to Girona, so we should see him tomorrow.
Villarreal: If La Liga gave out style points, the Yellow Submarine might be at the top of the table. Two unforced errors resulted in a home loss to Real Sociedad after a largely impressive match, and a 0-0 draw against Sevilla was also noteworthy for its hint of something more. At times, Caceres, Cazorla, Toko Ekambi and Gerard have all offered lots of stylish football; converting the style into goals and wins (i.e. keeping things tight at the back) has to be the goal now.
All-time record: These teams first met in the Copa del Rey in 2004-05, and Girona won that one. The two teams never met again until our 2012-13 season in the Segunda; Girona won 2-0 at home, lost 4-1 in Vila-real. Then no more meetings until last season: Villarreal won 2-1 in Girona (both goals from Bakambu) but lost 2-0 at home.
Prediction: Villarreal 2-1, with Stuani scoring the Girona goal. Endavant!!