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Villarreal at Real Betis: La Liga Preview

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Unai Emery vs Manuel Pellegrini in an important league showdown for both clubs.

Demir Grup Sivasspor v Villarreal - UEFA Europa League Photo by Sercan Kucuksahin/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

On July 9th, when Real Betis announced they were bringing on Manuel Pellegrini, I’ll admit I was pretty upset. If he were willing to go to a club with their resources, why on earth weren’t we in on discussions to bring back the man who took us to the Champions League semi-finals? Two weeks later, we officially announced Emery, and I felt much better about the whole thing, though sentimentally I still felt like we had missed out on something. Both Real Betis and Villarreal made a lot of moves that appeared both clever and cost effective to bring in players at needed positions, and I figured we would be battling each other for table position all season long.

It didn’t quite work out that way.

Our Opponents

We’ll go into less detail here than we usually do. Over the next two days we will be publishing a two part interview with Betico News founder Andrew Miller about how things are really going there. Know this above everything else: Defensively, Betis bad. Lest you misunderstand me, despite being in 8th place, Real Betis has conceded more goals than anyone else in La Liga. I said in our podcast this week (link below) that I really wasn’t worried about our goalscoring over the last five matches since two of those were against title contenders and two others were us using rotated sides in Europe, but let me be very clear. With or without Paco or Moi or Bacca, if we can’t put multiple goals past this Betis side, we need to go back to the drawing board.

Villarreal

Of course, we are still banged up, as mentioned above. I think many of us underappreciated how much balance Moi Gomez brings to the front three, and Paco’s lethal finishing certainly can’t be imitated by anyone else on the roster. We are about 18 months in to a remarkable run of drawing penalties at one of the highest rates in La Liga, which at this point I think is more about the qualities of our players than blind luck. Here’s how I think we’ll line up on Sunday:

lineupbuilder.com

Alex Baena didn’t work last week. I truly believe that Emery doesn’t like the idea of Samu and Kubo on the field together. His solution might be to put Yeremi out on the right. I think Yeremi is a much more refined player than Baena is at this point and I think he could handled it.

Prediction

I think we win this one. Betis is good offensively, so I think they’ll get a goal as well. 2-1 Villarreal.