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PREVIEW: A depleted Villarreal face a desperate Huesca

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ESP: Villarreal CF - SD Huesca. La Liga Santander. Photo by Pressinphoto/Icon Sport via Getty Images

Villarreal face Huesca on Saturday in an early match (5AM kickoff here on the West Coast).

Villarreal: Injuries continue to pile up for the Submarine, with the latest being Gerard Moreno—out for two to three weeks—and Samu Chukwueze, who apparently is going to need an operation for some groin or hip problem. That’s in addition to the long-term misses of Iborra, Alberto Moreno and Mario Gaspar. And Yeremy Pino has a knock after the Granada match as well, so we don’t know if he’s available.

With some big matches on the horizon, a WIN—not a draw—against the bottom team in the league is an imperative. Our quest for a Champions League place is in danger of being placed on life support, in spite of all of Unai Emery’s good work and our roster improvements.

I am expecting we’ll line up as we did against Granada, except with Paco starting for Fer.

Huesca: Just like Villarreal, Huesca’s problem can be defined succinctly as too many draws. But the Yellows’ have 8 wins vs 9 draws, 2 losses; Huesca 1 win, 9 draws, 9 losses. Their only win of the season came in December against Alavés.

New coach Pacheta took the reins in mid-January—he’s the coach who guided Elche to promotion but was then tossed aside. His first match was a 1-0 loss to Getafe; expectations are he’ll set Huesca up in a 3-4-3 for this one. Sandro Ramirez is out injured and Pablo Insua has COVID.

Villarreal connections: In spite of the fact that we loaned them Ruben Semedo (heh), we have a good relationship with these guys. We loaned them Miguelón last year, and we loaned them Javi Ontiveros this year.

I gather Javi is eligible to play tomorrow; he’s been one of their better players by all accounts. And you’ll remember we were linked with Leganes’s Greek defender Dimitrios Siovas in the summer, but he ended up in Huesca and will be anchoring their central defense in this one.

All-time record: We haven’t actually played each other much, at least not in the top two divisions (we were in the Segunda B and Tercera in some seasons prior to 1990, but I don’t have any head-to-head records from that period).

We have faced each other three times in the Primera, and we’ve played three score draws, including the 1-1 to open our season this year.

Prediction: Huesca have scored more than one goal only twice so far against topflight opposition, and both times those matches ended in draws. Possible we could have another wild, open game with a 2-2 scoreline or something like that, but the Submarine should win this one 2-0 or 2-1 I think. I’m looking for Paco to redeem himself and Parejo and Capoue to have strong games in midfield.