Villarreal vs Espanyol Preview
Watch Villarreal vs Espanyol preview, as Villarreal host Espanyol as they expect to avoid the third consecutive defeat in the La Liga contest at De le Ceramica stadium.
As Villarreal is on the 6th position of the La Liga, meanwhile Espanyol is placed on the 19th position of the league table.
winning three successive La Liga games, including an impressive 3-2 triumph at Real Madrid, Villarreal have since suffered back-to-back 2-1 defeats against Real Valladolid and Sevilla, losing to the latter away from home last weekend.
Pau Torres restored parity for the Yellow Submarine 10 minutes after the break, cancelling out Rafa Mir’s first-half opener, but it was Sevilla who had the last laugh as Youssef En-Nesyri netted a dramatic 94th-minute winner to condemn the visitors to their 11th league defeat of the season.
Quique Setien‘s side now appear to be outsiders in the race to qualify for the Champions League, as they sit seven points behind Real Sociedad in fourth, but they remain firmly in the mix to secure a top-six finish, currently occupying the Europa Conference League qualification spot in sixth and sit just one point behind Real Betis in fifth.
Five of Villarreal’s final eight La Liga games of the season will take place at home, although they have struggled to grind out results in front of their own fans in recent months as they have won only three of their last nine matches at the Estadi de la Ceramica.
However, the Yellow Submarine have won their last two meetings with Espanyol, following up last season’s emphatic 5-1 home victory with a slender 1-0 away win in November this term, and they will be confident of returning to winning ways against their relegation-threatened counterparts on Thursday.
Team news and Injury
Villarreal midfielder Francis Coquelin is ruled out for the rest of the season with an ACL injury, while Kiko Femenia and Jose Luis Morales are also sidelined with muscle problems.
Striker Gerard Moreno has missed the last four matches with a calf issue and will be assessed ahead of kickoff on Thursday, as will defender Raul Albiol who sustained a knee injury early in the defeat to Real Valladolid and subsequently missed the loss to Sevilla.
Yeremy Pino, who became the first Villarreal player to score four goals in a single La Liga match in the 5-1 home win over Espanyol last season, is expected to continue on the left flank, while Nicolas Jackson is the most likely candidate to replace the injured Morales up front.
As for Espanyol, Brian Olivan remains sidelined with a muscle injury, while Aleix Vidal will serve a one-match suspension after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season last time out.
After keeping a clean sheet against Cadiz, Garcia may consider sticking with a back five, which would see Cesar Montes join Leandro Cabrera and Sergi Gomez at centre-back.
Joselu, who has been involved in six goals in his last five La Liga games against Villarreal (three goals and three assists), is set to start up front alongside Martin Braithwaite, who has failed to score in his last three starts.
Villarreal vs Espanyol head-to-head stats
Villarreal have a good recent record against Espanyol and have won 16 out of the last 43 matches played between the two teams, as opposed to Espanyol’s eight victories. Villarreal have won their last two matches against Espanyol in La Liga – as many victories as they had achieved against them in the 10 such games preceding this run.
Villarreal have won only one of their last four matches at home against Espanyol in La Liga, with their previous such victory coming by a 5-1 margin in February 2022. After a winless run of 12 games away from home against teams from the region of Valencia in La Liga, Espanyol have won four of their last eight such matches in the competition.
Villarreal have lost only two of their nine games at home played on Thursdays in La Liga but did lose such a game against Espanyol in 2015.
Villareal vs Espanyol Prediction
Villarreal’s defeats to bottom-half teams in their last two matches will provide some optimism for an Espanyol side who are struggling for form themselves and can ill-afford to drop too many more points in their battle to avoid relegation.
Nevertheless, the hosts will be regarded as favourites to come out on top on Thursday and they should have enough quality in their side to record a routine win at the Estadi de la Ceramica.