Sports Mole previews Saturday’s La Liga clash between Real Sociedad and Villarreal, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Fifth-placed Real Sociedad host Villarreal in La Liga at the Reale Seguros Stadium on Saturday, when the home side will be aiming to break into the top four.
Villarreal are currently on a three-game winning run in all competitions, and they need to translate that form into the league if they want to climb the table and challenge for a European spot.
Sociedad have not won a league match in their last four fixtures, so they have the Copa Del Rey and Europa League to thank for maintaining some sort of winning feeling.
On Wednesday, Imanol Alguacil‘s side progressed in the Copa Del Rey with a 3-0 win over Zamora courtesy of goals from Jon Guridi, Benat Turrientes and Mikel Oyarzabal.
Not only have Sociedad not managed to pick up three points in their last four La Liga games, they have not scored a goal in that time either, and that continued last Sunday when they lost 4-0 against Real Betis.
Alguacil’s team are quite considerably the lowest scorers out of La Liga’s top eight sides in the table and their lack of clinical edge let them down against Real Betis, having created as many chances as their opponents in that game.
Villarreal also progressed in their European competition earlier this month, finishing second in Group F of the Champions League, and they followed that up with victory in La Liga for the first time in four matches.
Last Sunday, Aissa Mandi and Gerard Moreno found the back of the net to send Villarreal on their way to a 2-0 win against Rayo Vallecano, but that still leaves Unai Emery‘s side six points behind the Europa League places.
They eased through to the third round of the Copa Del Rey in midweek, beating lower-league outfit Atletico Sanluqueno 7-1 after recording 18 shots on target.
Villarreal’s away form does not bode well for them ahead of Saturday’s visit to Sociedad, having not tasted victory on the road in La Liga this season, only scoring four times in eight matches.
Both encounters between these two teams last season ended in 1-1 draws, with Real Sociedad the last team to take three points from this fixture two seasons ago in July last year.
Real Sociedad La Liga form:
Real Sociedad form (all competitions):
Villarreal La Liga form:
Villarreal form (all competitions):
David Silva, Mikel Merino and Nacho Monreal are all closing in on their return to action after being sidelined with injury, but Saturday’s match may have come too early for the trio to start.
Striker Carlos Fernandez has not made an appearance for Real Sociedad this season after sustaining cruciate ligament damage at the beginning of August, and he is not expected to be fit until at least February.
Alexander Isak will lead the line for the hosts, looking to add to his three goals in the league this season and end his six-game goal drought in La Liga.
Villarreal midfielder Francis Coquelin has not featured since 20 November and he remains a doubt for Saturday’s outing, with Daniel Parejo and Etienne Capoue likely to start in the middle of the pitch.
Moreno is expected to retain his place in the starting 11 after getting on the scoresheet last time out in La Liga, and he will lead the line along with Boulaye Dia.
Real Sociedad possible starting lineup:
Remiro; Munoz, Normand, Elustondo, Zaldua; Zubimendi, Zubeldia; Barrenetxea, Oyarzabal, Portu; Isaac
Villarreal possible starting lineup:
Rulli; Pedraza, Torres, Mandi, Gaspar; Trigueros, Capoue, Parejo, Gomez; Dia, Moreno
We say: Real Sociedad 1-1 Villarreal
Both Villarreal’s and Real Sociedad’s form in La Liga has been inconsistent in recent games, suggesting that Saturday’s match-up is going to be a close encounter.
The visitors may not have won any away games in the league so far this season, but they have drawn more than half of their games on the road, and that is why the chance of a point a piece this weekend is likely.
Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 goals 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.Over 1.5: data