Fresh from the stunning 1-0 home win over Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie on Wednesday, Villarreal’s attentions switch to La Liga action today when they host Athletic Club at 17:30GMT.
Villarreal Vs Atlhletic Bilbau Match Preview
Can Villarreal Get Back to Winning Ways in La Liga after two Consecutive Losses?
After two consecutive losses in La Liga against Cadiz (1-0) and Levante (2-0), Unai Emery’s side will be looking to get back to winning form in the clash against Athletic on Saturday.
With a sharp turnover from the massive midweek clash with Bayern Munich, Emery will hope his players can react and freshen quickly to be ready to face a relatively in-form Athletic side.
Can Athletic Club Leapfrog Villarreal on the La Liga table with a win on Saturday?
With 44 points, Athletic Club are just one point behind Villarreal on the La Liga table. With a win on Saturday, Athletic can leapfrog Villarreal into 7th on the table and get closer to the European-qualifying positions on the table.
Marcelino García Toral’s side will seek to make it two consecutive wins in La Liga as they seek to gain some consistency and momentum in the run-in.
However, Athletic Club’s chances for a top-four finish are remote, they are 13 points behind fourth-placed Sevilla, and they can push for a Europe League position on the table.
Unai Emery’s side have collected 9 points from the available 18 in their last six La Liga outings. They have won three and lost three matches in this run.
Villarreal have kept only one clean sheet in this run, in the 1-0 win over Celta Vigo. They have conceded six goals in the run of the last six matches while scoring 10 goals.
Villarreal will have to bolster their consistency in La Liga to arrest their slide down the table. This is especially the case given their stellar form in the Champions League, which has seen them knock out Juventus and take a 1-0 aggregate lead over Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals.
Athletic have triumphed in three of their last six outings in La Liga; they have lost twice and drawn once in this run. They have, therefore, collected 10 points and dropped 8 in the process.
Athletic have scored 10 goals in the last six matches in the league while they have conceded eight in the process.
They have kept just once clean sheet in the last six, which highlights their challenge in La Liga, which is the inability to keep opponents out in games.
Unai Emery will be without left-back Alberto Moreno who is sidelined with a ruptured cruciate ligament since March 6th. Having missed six matches already, the Spanish national is not expected to be available for the clash with Athletic on Saturday.
Goalkeeper Julen Agirrezabala bruised his acromioclavicular on March 5th, 2022; the 21-year-old is not expected to be available for the clash with Villarreal on Saturday.
Centre-back Inigo Martinez is having muscular problems that have seen him miss the last three matches; the 30-year-old will be unavailable for Villarreal this weekend.
Other players likely to be unavailable for Athletic’s next La Liga fixture include central midfielder Dani Garcia (pubitis) and right-back Inigo Lekue (hamstring).
Possible Starting Lineups
Rulli; J. Foyth, R. Albiol, P. Torres, P. Estupinan; G. Lo Celso, E. Capue, D. Parejo, F. Coquelin; G. Moreno, A. Groeneveld
Simon; O. de Marcos, D. Vivian, U. Nenez, Y. Berchiche; Alex Berenguer, U. Vencedor, M. Vesga, I. Muniain; O. Sancet, I. Williams
Playing at the El Madrigal, Expect Villarreal to play on the front foot and attack Athletic from the start and put them under pressure.
Expect Athletic to absorb the pressure and grow into the match with quick passing and a direct style of play. Villarreal are favoured to win and take all three points.