Villarreal 8th, 8 points, 13 goals for, 10 against Form: L W W D L
Real Betis 9th, 8 points, 9 points for, 10 against Form: W D D W L
Just looking at this, you’d say this should be a competitive match between two fairly balanced teams, but when you look at common opponents (there have already been several), Villarreal look like the better side:
Real Betis 1-2 Valladolid; Villarreal 2-0 Valladolid
Real Betis 2-1 Leganés; Lega 0-3 Villarreal
Barcelona 5-2 Betis; Barca 2-1 Villarreal
True, Betis 3-1 Levante, Levante 2-1 Villarreal but Betis were at home for that one, we weren’t.
Anyhow, after today’s results we can already see that there’s a bottom 9 teams in the table with a grand total of four wins, combined, over the last five matchdays, a top group of 6 teams with 4 losses, combined, over the last five weeks, and then there are the teams in the middle, from 7 to 11. Both Villarreal and Betis are part of that group, and both would like to put together a wining streak to push on into the top six.
Betis: A good win against Levante last time out, but the road has been tough for them. Nabil Fekir, who came over from Lyon, has been their best player so far, but he is out with an injury. Betis should line up in a 4-2-3-1 with Loren Moron (5 goals) on the left, Sergio Canales in the middle, and 38 year-old Joaquin on the right. Borja Iglasias should be the sole striker. William Carvalho and Andres Guardado are experienced midfielders, and the back four includes Marc Bartra (Sidnei is also out, injured).
Alfonso Pedraza has been playing at left back for the Seville side, but he wasn’t even in the squad last week, Alex Moreno taking his place. Pedraza is eligible to play against us: their call is Joel Robles, Dani Martín, Barragán, Emerson, Feddal, Bartra, Mandi, Pedraza, Álex Moreno, Javi García, William Carvalho, Guardado, Canales, Joaquín, Lainez, Tello, Borja Iglesias, Loren y Raúl.
Villarreal: We come into this off the back of a decent but unrewarded trip to the Camp Nou, but before that two strong wins. Mario Gaspar is apparently available again after injury. I’m thinking our own 4-2-3-1/4-3-3ish system may work here, but I really want to see a front four of Ekambi, Moi, Santi and Gerard ahead of Anguissa and Iborra, however they play.
All-time record: Villarreal is 7-4-4 against Betis in the Primera at home, 4-4-7 away. Those home losses came early, too—Betis has not won at our ground since December, 2007. Last year we won this match 2-1, our only win in a run of terrible results and Calleja’s last leage win before being canned (we didn’t pick up our next league win until three months later, after he returned).
Prediction: Villarreal 3-1 Betis. Make it so, Submarine! Endavant!