Friday, March 31, 2023

Prediction: Villarreal vs Rayo Vallecano

Veselin Trajkovic in Free Soccer Predictions 29 Jan 2023


Verdict: Home win

Best odds: 4/6

Bookmaker: 888sport

Villarreal will welcome Rayo Vallecano to the Estadio de la Ceramica on Monday evening in what will be the 19th La Liga game of the season for both, rounding off the first half of the 2022/23 campaign.


After what seemed like an underwhelming start to the season, Villarreal have undoubtedly found their rhythm again. They have reminded us all that they’re still a team of high quality, ready to fight for Champions League qualification once more, after reaching the elite competition’s semifinals last term.

The club were forced into a managerial change in October as Unai Emery accepted an offer from Aston Villa and asked to leave. Quique Setien has taken over, and the former Barcelona boss appears to have started living up to that reputation in his new job.

Of Villarreal’s last six matches in all competitions, four ended as victories, one in defeat, and one as a draw. They first beat Valencia 2-1 at home and followed that up with a 1-5 thumping of FC Cartagena away in the Copa del Rey round of 32. Then came a huge La Liga victory, 2-1 1 over Real Madrid at home, and a 1-1 draw away to Celta Vigo. Real Madrid got their revenge by winning 2-3 at the La Ceramica and knocking them out of the Copa in the round of 16, before the Yellow Submarine bounced back with a 1-0 triumph over Girona last week.

At the moment, Villarreal sit in fifth place with 31 points, seven less than Real Sociedad in third, three less than Atletico Madrid in fourth but with a game in hand on the Rojiblancos, and the same tally as Real Betis in sixth.

Team News

There are a number of injury absences Setien has to deal with. Defenders Raul Albiol, Kiko Femenia and Alfonso Pedraza are all out for the time being, as is midfielder Francis Coquelin. With that in mind, there probably aren’t any reasons to change the team that started the match against Girona.

That means Pepe Reina standing between the posts, and the line consisting of Pau Torres, Jorge Cuenca, Aissa Mandi and Johan Mojica playing as the last line ahead of him. Dani Parejo should anchor the midfield with Etienne Capoue and Alex Baena in there with him. Gerard Moreno should be flanked by Samuel Chukwueze and Yeremy Pino in attack.

Rayo Vallecano

Having returned to the top tier of Spanish football in 2021 and finished 12th last season, Rayo Vallecano are doing very well this term. They are currently ninth with 26 points from 18 matches, and finishing in the top half of the table certainly isn’t beyond them, even if they won’t be too upset if they merely avoid being involved in the relegation battle. Five points separate them from Villarreal and Betis in fifth and sixth, respectively, two from Osasuna in seventh, and one from Athletic Bilbao in eighth (providing Bilbao’s clash with Celta ends goalless, as it stands at the time of writing). Mallorca are a point behind, in 10th.

Unlike with Villarreal, recent form is not the reason why Rayo stand reasonably well at the moment, and should it continue as it has been going over the last couple of matches, things might start to slip away from their control. The first game of their last-six run to date was a goalless draw away to Tercera Division side Atletico Saguntino in the second round of the Copa del Rey, at the end of which they avoided shame by winning the penalty shootout. Then they played a 2-2 draw away to Girona, lost 2-0 away to Segunda Division side Sporting Gijon in the Copa round of 32, lost 1-2 at home to Betis, beat Valladolid away by 0-1, and lost 0-2 at home to Real Sociedad.

Team News

Midfielder Oscar Valentin remains out for this clash with a muscular problem, but coach Andoni Iraola should have the rest of the squad at his disposal.

With Stole Dimitrievski between the posts, Florian Lejeune and Alejandro Catena should form the centre-back partnership, flanked by Fran Garcia and Ivan Balliu. Santi Comesana could replace Unai Lopez compared to the team that faced Sociedad, in which case he would be joined in the middle of the park by Pathe Ciss. Captain Oscar Trejo will be running the show from the No.10 role, with wingers Isi Palazon and Alvaro Garcia supporting striker Sergio Camello.


Everything seems to be pointing at a Villarreal victory in this clash; the overall quality, the table rankings, the venue, the recent form. Too obvious?

You be the judge.

Verdict: Home win

Best odds: 4/6

Bookmaker: 888sport


Veselin Trajkovic

Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.



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