Villarreal face Espanyol in the first home game back in the Primera for the Barcelona side after winning promotion (and the Segunda championship) last season. Vicente Moreno’s men played out a dour 0-0 draw against Osasuna in their home match, so they are—like us—looking for their first goal of the season, much less their first win.
Newly promoted sides often get off to a decent start the following season, riding the adrenalin rush, and then fall back. For Espanyol, success this season would be staying up, especially a middish-table finish without the pain of relegation battle. Matches against Villarreal at the RCDE Stadium (Cornellà de Llobregat) have usually been tight affairs; on our last visit we won 1-0 with a goal from Karl Toko Ekambi (October 2019).
Espanyol figure to line up in a 4-2-3-1, and ex-Villarreal man Diego Lopez (still going strong—he’ll be 40 in November) is likely to be in goal. Manu Morlanes has joined the parakeets on loan, may or may not be available; Miguelòn Llambrich is a member of their team but I’d be surprised to see him—we’ll see when the lineups come out!
Worth pointing out that Gerard Moreno has never scored against Espanyol (though he’s on;y faced them three times).
Predictions: A lot more scatter in the forecasts this time. Zach goes for a 1-0 Villarreal win; Rahul and Jamie 2-1 Villarreal; Robin 3-0 to Villarreal (!). I predict a 1-1 draw and Alayrach, our man on the ground in the Vila-real area, is going for a 1-0 win for Espanyol. I hope he’s wrong about that.....
VILLARREAL: Rulli; Foyth, Albiol, Mandi, Pedraza; Moi, Trigueros, Capoue, Alberto Moreno; Dia and Gerard. (Moi for Yeremy is the only change from Monday)
Bench: Asenjo; Mario, Paco, Iborra, Estupiñan, Danjuma, Raba, Coquelin, Ruben Peña, Cuenca, Yeremy.
ESPANYOL: Diego López; Gil, S. Gómez, Cabrera, Pedrosa, David López, Darder, Embarba, Puado, Dimata, Raul de Tomás.
Bench: Oier; Miguelón, Calero, Morlanes, Wu Lei, Fran Mérida, Melendo, Didac, Vadillo, K. Bare, Gori, Nico MR