Villareal vs Real Sociedad: Preview and Prediction￼
The battle for a Europa League finish in La Liga standings continues this Sunday as Villarreal hosts Real Sociedad in a must-win match. Both sides will be looking for positive results, with just three points separating the sides from getting into the weekend’s action.
It will be a must-play for Villarreal in the Spanish top flight this weekend as they must beat Real Sociedad if they want to keep their chances of finishing in a Europa League place alive. At present, three points are the difference between the two teams, while Villarreal could also be fighting for a Europa Conference League place in recent weeks as they sit just above Athletic Bilbao.
Villarreal has endured a tough couple of weeks both domestically and in Europe, having seen their Champions League dreams dashed at the hands of Liverpool a few weeks ago. However, attention must now return to their domestic struggle as they need a strong end to the campaign to ensure they will play in Europe next season.
Sociedad is placed 6th in the table, and they will be happy even with a draw since they already have a 3-point lead over their competitors. But the team will have to be careful about their recent performances on the road, which has seen them conceding plenty.
Sociedad will have the advantage going into this game, but their recent form is not much better than their rivals. Both teams will be fighting for sixth place, as Real Betis is well above both teams in fifth place.
Sociedad has not been very consistent on the road throughout the season as they have won six times, lost six and drawn six times. Furthermore, 27 of the 39 goals he has conceded this season have also been away from home. Sociedad has not won their last two away games either, as last weekend Levante defeated them and the previous weekend Rayo Vallecano drew with them.
Meanwhile, Villarreal is high on confidence after they delivered a campaign to remember in the ongoing Champions League, which saw them defeating titans such as Juventus and Bayern Munich.
They may have been Champions League semi-finalists this year, but Villarreal will have to settle for the Europa Conference League at best unless they win this crunch clash with Real Sociedad.
The good news for Unai Emery’s side is they have been in good form at Estadio de la Ceramica, losing just two league games there all season. They are currently on a run of seven wins in a run of 11 without defeat at home, while also suffering only one reversal in six at all venues in La Liga.
Real Sociedad is the team to chase for Villarreal, heading into the game in sixth place in the table and with a three-point advantage, but their away record inspires little confidence in maintaining that gap.
Imanol Alguacil’s side has picked up just the six wins on the road in 18 attempts, each of them against sides currently in ninth place or lower. Just two of those victories have come in the last 11, against strugglers Elche and Mallorca, while suffering five defeats in the process.
Head to Head Record
Villarreal has a good record in this fixture, having only lost once in the previous six meetings between the two sides. They had won three games during this period and were held to two draws. The Yellow Submarine are, in fact, unbeaten in their previous three against Sociedad, earning a 3-1 victory in the meeting between the two teams earlier in the season.
For the Yellow Submarine, both Alberto and Gerard Moreno are doubtful for the match, while Paco Alcacer should keep his place in the starting XI after finding the net in the midweek triumph. Meanwhile, Arnaut Danjuma was absent from the squad last weekend and he could continue a spell on the sidelines.
Competition is rife in midfield, with the likes of Giovani Lo Celso, Dani Parejo, Etienne Capoue and Francis Coquelin all pushing for places in the centre.
It’s good news for the visitors as both Isak and Le Normand are back from suspension. However, La Real will again be missing Mikel Oyarzabal, Nacho Monreal, Carlos Fernandez and Ander Barrenetxea through injury.
Head coach Alguacil is likely to resist the temptation to make wholesale alterations, though, so Asier Illarramendi and Adnan Januzaj might have to accept spots on the bench once again, with Mikel Merino, Rafinha and David Silva set to feature in midfield.
Predicted Starting XIs
Villareal (4-4-2): Sergio Asenjo; Juan Foyth, Raul Albiol, Pau Francisco Torres, Pervis Estupinan; Giovani Lo Celso, Etienne Capoue, Daniel Parejo, Francis Coquelin; Samuel Chukwueze, Paco Alcacer
Real Sociedad (4-3-3): Alex Remiro; Andoni Gorosabel, Igor Zubeldia, Robin Le Normand, Diego Rico; Mikel Merino, Martin Zubimendi, Rafinha; David Silva; Alexander Sorloth, Alexander Isak
Villarreal won 1-5 on the road on the last matchday against Rayo Vallecano. They are also unbeaten in 7 of their past 10 overall fixtures, and their only 3 losses at this venue since mid-October had come against Liverpool, Manchester United, and Barcelona.
On the other hand, Real Sociedad won 3-0 at home the past game week against Cadiz. They are also unbeaten in 7 of their previous 9 overall games, and they had remained so in 9 of their past 12 road trips.
Taking into account these observations, we expect a goal-fest this Sunday and feel that the game will be a draw with a 2-2 scoreline.