Villarreal host Leganés at the Ceramica on Sunday, with the weather expected to be awful (Villarreal is apparently providing lots of raincoats for their fans—yellow, of course). At the time of writing, Villarreal are sixteenth, a point ahead of Real Valladolid in eighteenth, while Levante, in between them, play early tomorrow.
Celta is the only one of the bottom clubs who has won so far this weekend; Girona has lost, and all the others have drawn. A draw wouldn’t be absolutely dreadful (it would put us ahead of Girona, who have lost five straight) but a win would move us definitely away from the eighteenth spot.
Leganés are playing reasonably well these days. They lost to Girona in mid-March and it looked as though they might get sucked into the relegation battle, but then they won at Getafe and defeated Valladolid at home, and have picked up two draws since. And after today, three of their next four matches remaining are at home, so they seem pretty safe.
Coach Mauricio Pellegrino has done a capable job with an international roster including a dozen loanees, many in the 27-29 year-old range. Lega understand that the story for them—a team from the Madrid suburbs, playing in a stadium that only holds 12,000—is to build a foundation to grow on, and that is being accomplished this season. From 17th the last two seasons to mid-table this year is indeed progress.
Like Villarreal, they’ve had some success in a 3-5-2, 5-3-2, or variants thereof. Their front two will likely be Carrillo and En-Nesyri, who btween them have 14 of Lega’s 32 goals.
Villarreal are without Miguelón, Daniele Bonera and Bruno, but everyone else is theoretically available. Players like Iborra, Santi Cazorla, Bacca, and Toko Ekambi, none of whom played on Thursday, should all be in the starting lineup. We have no one suspended for this one, so we may see all of Ruiz, Funes Mori and Alvaro in the lineup.
Trivia: As many have noted, a quirk of the schedule is that this is the third successive year we have hosted Leganés in the 33rd match of our league season. Last year we won 2-1 with goals from Ruiz and Bacca before a Lega goal late on; two years ago, we won 2-1, Cedric Bakambu scoring, Lega equalizing, and then Bakambu scoring a winner on the last play of the match I believe.
Prediction: With all that, how can I do other than pick Villarreal to win, 2-1?
It should be a close, tense match, the weather conditions won’t be the best, but Villarreal took a giant step toward remaining in the Primera last week in Girona, now here is an opportunity for another in front of our home fans. 2-1 home win would be fine with me!
Endavant Villarreal!! Vamos Submarino!