After a disappointing result against Huesca and with Barcelona looming, the match with Eibar becomes immediately important for Villarreal. Get a win Saturday, and we can be happy if we draw Barcelona. Drop points, and we go to the Camp Nou absolutely needing a win to stay on the pace for a run at the top four.
I love Eibar. The Ipurua is one of those stadiums I’ve always wanted to attend a top flight match in, and I love the way they continually reinvent themselves to stay in the top flight despite a small budget. They drew Celta in the season opener in what was a very, very, very dull match, but Papa Diop took a red so they’ll be missing a key midfielder.
Before 201-2015, Eibar had never been in the top flight, and I’m absolutely astounded that they have remained up ever since. Excellent, excellent work by their front office. As a club they are still figuring out life without Fabian Orellana, who did enough to keep them up before letting his contract run out and moving to Valladolid. Their ‘big signing’- the only person they’ve paid an actual fee for this summer- is Damian Kadzior, an attacker who came on at the hour mark against Celta.
There are several questions about Villarreal’s lineup this week. Will new man Estupinan start at left back? (I doubt it) Will Kubo get his first competitive Villarreal start, and what position will he play if he does? (I think it’s more likely that he starts ahead of Paco to make it a 4141 than he starts over Chukwueze) Will Coquelin be fit to play? Here’s how I see the lineup shaking out:
Mendilibar has been at Eibar for years, and that continuity is dangerous this early in the season while Emery still figures out his best XI, but I think we win this one 2-0.