Javi Calleja can’t be thrilled that a couple of the teams near us have already won—we enter this match five points from safety, so even if we win, we’ll still be in the relegation places.
That aside, if we can’t beat Espanyol at home, I’m not sure where many wins will come from. The parakeets have one win in the league since November 5, losing nine. Their record on the road is poor (one win and three draws in eleven matches) and their -11 goals against (23 for, 34 given up) is worse than ours. Borja Iglesias and his nine goals—they bought him for €10m from Celta last summer—is about the only bright spot.
Villarreal, of course, spent more money on strikers than that, and have less to show for it. If one of our trio could get hot, now would be a good time.
Espanyol are coming in with less rest, having endured 120 minutes of a Copa quarterfinal on Thursday, which they ultimately lost. Very clever of us to get eliminated by them the previous round, no? Let’s see: Hernán Pérez is out, so too Oscar Duarte and Naldo, and Marc Roca is suspended. Leo Baptistao was sold to a Chinese side the last day of the transfer window, so he’s gone.
Villarreal will be without Victor Ruiz, who picked up his fifth yellow of the season against Valencia, and Bruno Soriano. We may see Daniele Bonera partner Funes Mori if Alvaro isn’t available (he has some sort of knock) and Manu Morlanes is doubtful as well.
I’ve got no idea how we’ll line up and with whom, though when we hosted Betis and Celta under Calleja he went with a 4-3-1-2 diamond-y thing. He’s had time to ‘reflect’ , he says, so will he change that?
Prediction: At this point it’s just please, please, win. 3-1.