Sports Mole previews Sunday’s La Liga clash between Mallorca and Villarreal, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Still in search of their first win of the La Liga season, Villarreal travel to Mallorca on Sunday in their fourth outing of the campaign.
The Yellow Submarine have drawn all three of their league games so far, while their hosts have adjusted to life back in the top flight in impressive fashion, collecting seven points from their opening four matches.
After achieving a second-placed finish in the second tier last campaign, nine points above the playoff places, Mallorca earned an immediate return to the top flight following their relegation in the 2019-20 season, and they have started in impressive fashion.
Luis Garcia‘s side began with a tough home clash against Real Betis, and Brian Olivan‘s goal saw them earn a commendable point in a 1-1 draw, before they quickly put their first victory of the season on the board as Fer Nino netted an 80th-minute goal to seal a 1-0 away win over Alaves.
Los Piratas then made it back-to-back victories when they took on fellow promoted side Espanyol, with Dani Rodriguez netting the only goal in another 1-0 victory.
Upon their return from the recent international break on Saturday, Garcia’s men were unable to continue their unbeaten run, as they eventually fell to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Athletic Bilbao on their travels.
However, having come into the campaign with the ultimate aim of avoiding another drop to the second tier, Mallorca will be more than pleased with their start, as they currently sit in eighth spot, and they will be keen to quickly get back on track to help them avoid the bottom three over the course of the season.
They welcome a Villarreal side who are yet to taste victory in the Spanish top flight this term, having played out three consecutive draws.
Despite a relatively disappointing seventh-placed finish in La Liga last season, Unai Emery‘s more than made up for it by winning the Europa League, as goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli netted the winning penalty in a dramatic shootout after a 1-1 draw with English giants Manchester United in the final.
That saw Emery add a third Europa League to his managerial trophy cabinet, but he will now be desperate to see his side cement a place in the top six of the La Liga table this time around.
The Yellow Submarine began the season in disappointing fashion, as they were held to goalless draws by Granada and Espanyol, before goals from Manu Trigueros and Arnaut Danjuma looked to have fired them to a 2-1 away win over defending champions Atletico Madrid, only for an Aissa Mandi own goal in the 95th minute to force a share of the spoils.
Following the disappointment of conceding a late equalizer, Villarreal took on Italian outfit Atalanta in the opening game of the Champions League group stage on Tuesday, and they continued their run of draws as the game finished 2-2, with Trigueros and Danjuma again on the scoresheet before Robin Gosens earned a point for the visitors in the final 10 minutes.
Having come close to defeating last season’s champions, Emery’s men have certainly shown they have the ability to quickly climb the table, and it should only be a matter of time before the Yellow Submarine click and get their season up and running.
Mallorca La Liga form:
Villarreal La Liga form:
Villarreal form (all competitions):
Mallorca have several injury concerns to deal with, as Antonio Sanchez is ruled out while Antonio Raillo, Inigo Ruiz de Galarreta, Franco Russo and Alexander the Great are all doubts.
They will also be without forward Fer Nino, who is unable to play against his parent club after arriving on loan from Villarreal over the summer.
In his absence, Abdon Prats could come in to lead the line, while former Valencia star Lee Kang-In will be pushing for a starting role in the attacking line, after he was reduced to a substitute appearance last time out.
Villarreal’s only doubts are winger Samuel Chukwueze and midfielder Dani Rabaas the pair near returns from injuries.
Spanish defender Pau Torres recently came back into the side after a lengthy break, while midfielder Dani Parejo also returned to give the squad another major boost.
New winger Arnaut Danjuma finds himself in impressive form, having scored in each of their last two games after arriving from Bournemouth, while star forward Gerard Moreno is yet to hit the heights of last season, when he registered 23 goals and seven assists in 33 La Liga appearances.
Geronimo Rulli, who has started every league game so far this season, was surprisingly deployed in Tuesday’s Champions League game, despite Villarreal tending to switch him and Sergio Asenjo for different competitions, potentially suggesting that Asenjo could be handed a start on Sunday.
Mallorca possible starting lineup:
Reina; Maffeo, Valjent, Raillo, Olivan; Baba, Seville; Mboula, Kubo, Lee; Prats
Villarreal possible starting lineup:
Asenjo; Foyth, Torres, Albiol, Pedraza; Trigueros, Capoue, Parejo; Moreno, Dia, Danjuma
We say: Mallorca 0-2 Villarreal
Despite Mallorca’s strong start to the season and Villarreal’s struggles to get going, we ultimately see the visitors having the quality to get over the line on Sunday.
The returns of Torres and Parejo will likely make a big difference for Emery’s men, and if Moreno can find his form in the final third, they will be a dangerous proposition with Danjuma firing on the other flank.
Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a double chance bet on a draw or an away win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Draw / Away: data