Villarreal face Osasuna at Estadio De La Ceramica in the early kick off on Sunday, hoping to make it three wins in a row following the international break. After last weekend’s impressive 3-0 win over Granada, and the hard fought 1-0 away win to Dinamo Zagreb in Thursday’s Europa League Quarter Final, a win against 14th placed Osasuna would set the team up nicely for the end of season run in.
Osasuna come into this game on the back of three consecutive goalless draws and are winless in their last 6 games dating back to their win over Levante in mid-February.
Their top scorer, Croatian forward Ante Budimir, has 6 La Liga goals to his name this season, but Osasuna will be boosted by the return of their star striker and cult hero Ezequiel ‘Chimy’ Avila, who made his first league appearance of the season last week following a long spell on the injury table. Avila is unlikely to start but provides their biggest threat off the bench.
Manager Jagoba Arrasate, who has been in charge at El Sadar since 2018, often favours a 442 formation, but has also used 433, with Jonathan Calleri, formerly of Las Palmas and West Ham United, leading the line.
Given the recent trip to Zagreb for Unai Emery’s men, as well as the upcoming second leg of the Europa League Quarter final, I expect a fair amount of rotation for this game. Carlos Bacca has started the last three games without scoring, and the fit again Paco Alcacer should replace him in the starting XI. There are nice selection headaches all over the pitch for Emery: Juan Foyth was man of the match at right back against Dinamo, but is suspended for this fixture, so Mario Gaspar will likely return to the team.
Osasuna have midfielders Jon Moncayola and Iñigo Pérez missing through suspension and injury respectively. Villarreal, meanwhile, are only missing Foyth and Estupiñán, and boast an otherwise fully fit squad. Alberto Moreno could be in line to make his first start of the season following his long-term injury.
Given the relative strengths and form of both teams, I predict a strong home win for Villarreal. Gerard Moreno has scored 4 in his last two games and will likely be included as he looks to win the Pichichi Trophy for top Spanish goalscorer.
Prediction: Villarreal 2-0 Osasuna.