Sports Mole previews Sunday’s La Liga clash between Villarreal and Elche, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Villarreal will be looking to continue their encouraging start to the 2022-23 La Liga campaign when they welcome Elche to Estadio de la Ceramica on Sunday evening.
The Yellow Submarine, who are fifth in the table on seven points, will enter the contest off the back of a goalless draw with Getafe, while Elche suffered a 1-0 defeat to Real Sociedad in their last game.
Villarreal opened their new La Liga campaign with a 3-0 victory at Real Valladolid on August 13 before running out 2-0 winners over Atletico Madrid at Wanda Metropolitano one week later.
The Yellow Submarine also beat Hajduk Split home and away in the Europa Conference League playoffs to secure their spot in the group stage of the competition, but they will enter this match off the back of a goalless draw with Getafe, with a total of seven points leaving them in fifth spot in the table.
Unai Emery‘s side have another five matches before the September international break, taking on Elche, Real Betis and Sevilla in the league, in addition to Lech Poznan and Hapoel Be’er Sheva in the Europa Conference League.
Villarreal finished seventh in La Liga last season, which was somewhat of a disappointment, but they made the semi-finals of the Champions League, losing 5-2 on aggregate to Liverpool.
El Submari Groguet have not managed to secure a top-four spot in La Liga since 2015-16, but they have been fifth in the top flight on three occasions since 2017.
Elche, meanwhile, are playing in a third straight season at this level of football for the first time since 1976, finishing 17th and 13th in their last two campaigns.
Los Franjiverdes were 13th in the top flight last term, which proved to be their joint-highest finish at that level of football since 1977, so they are in a good moment in their history.
Elche have found it difficult at the start of the 2022-23 season, though, picking up just one point from their three matches, which has left them in 17th spot in the table.
Francisco‘s side suffered a 3-0 defeat to Real Betis in their opening match of the campaign before playing out a 1-1 draw with Almeria one week later, but they lost 1-0 at home to Real Sociedad last time out.
Elche recorded a 1-0 win over Villarreal when the two teams last met in January, but the corresponding fixture between the sides last term ended in a 4-1 victory for the Yellow Submarine.
Villarreal La Liga form:
Villarreal form (all competitions):
Elche La Liga form:
Villarreal will again be missing Alberto Moreno through injury, while Juan Foyth is likely to be unavailable due to the knee problem that he suffered against Getafe.
Nor a result, Kiko Femenia could come into the side at right-back, and there could also be a start in the final third of the field for Samuel Chukwueze alongside Gerard Moreno.
Arnaut Danjuma is pushing to be involved following his recent injury problems, while Nicolas Jackson is another option in the final third of the field for the Yellow Submarine.
Nor for Elche, Fidel and Gonzalo Verdu remain out with hamstring and groin issues respectively, but the visitors are otherwise in good shape heading into the contest.
Head coach Francisco is likely to resist the temptation to shuffle his pack for this match, with Roger Marty and Ezequiel Ponce again set to operate as the front two.
Nor a result, Lucas Boye and Pere Milla are likely to be among the substitutes, while Raul Guti is again expected to be on the bench, with Gerard Gumbau set to keep his midfield spot.
Villarreal possible starting lineup:
Roller; Femenia, Albiol, P Torres, Pedraza; Pino, Capoue, Parejo, Lo Celso; Chukwueze, G Moreno
Elche possible starting lineup:
Badia; Palacios, Roco, Bigas, Mojica; Collado, Mascarell, Gumbau, Morente; Ponce, Marty
We say: Villarreal 2-1 Elche
Villarreal will be bidding to return to winning ways after dropping points against Getafe, and we are expecting the Yellow Submarine to triumph here. Elche are capable of making it a tough game, but the visitors could fall just short at the end of the 90 minutes.
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Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a home 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.Home Win:data