Real Betis will be aiming to extend their unbeaten run in La Liga as they travel to El Madrigal to face Villarreal on Friday.

Villarreal have had a mixed start to their 2019-20 La Liga campaign, having picked up eight points from six games. Wednesday’s narrow defeat to FC Barcelona ended their run of three unbeaten matches, that included a 2-2 draw with Real Madrid at home.

The club from Castellon are currently eighth in the league table and will be looking to get back to winning ways when they host Real Betis at El Madrigal on Friday night. But, there would definitely be some tired legs, having played against Barcelona in midweek. The Yellow Submarines did well for the most part but conceding two early goals turned out to be the difference between the two sides.

As for Real Betis, they too have mustered a similar record this campaign, picking up eight points in six matches. However, the Verdiblancos are unbeaten in their last four matches, with their last defeat coming against Barcelona at the end of last month.

Betis are also coming on the back of a 3-1 win over Levante in midweek and will want to grab three points again from their visit to El Madrigal. And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides ahead of this enticing match-up in La Liga on Friday.

Team News & Tactics

Villarreal

Javier Calleja will be forced to make at least one change in attack following a strenuous midweek fixture against Barcelona. Javi Ontiveros may return to the bench, paving the way for Moi Gomez to start on the left wing. The former Sporting Gijon star has already been involved in four goals this season.

VILLAREAL, SPAIN - APRIL 11: Javier Calleja, Manager of Villarreal gives instructions during the UEFA Europa League Quarter Final First Leg match between Villarreal and Valencia at Estadio de la Ceramica on April 11, 2019 in Villareal, Spain. (Photo by Fotopress/Getty Images)

Can Javier Calleja’s men return to winning ways this Friday? (Photo by Fotopress/Getty Images)

While Gomez will operate as the left winger, Samuel Chukwueze will retain his role on the opposite flank. The Nigerian’s pace on the break will be useful as Villarreal look to breach the Real Betis defence that has conceded 10 goals so far.

Speaking of goals, Gerard Moreno is Villarreal’s top scorer this season, netting five times in the league. The 27-year-old attacker will be keen to extend his scoring tally against Betis, supported by the wide-attacking duo of Gomez and Chukwueze.

Aside from Gomez, Calleja is expected to opt for the same team that lost to Barcelona, with the back four comprising of Ruben Pena, Raul Albiol, Pau Torres and Xavi Quintilla. Pena is deputising for Mario Gaspar, who is a doubt heading into this clash. Sergio Asenjo is also a guaranteed starter in goal.

And finally, in midfield, Vicente Iborra will likely retain his place at the base of Betis’ 4-2-3-1. He will be partnered by another ex-Premier League star Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa. They will form the double pivot and will play an important role in the second line of press.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Asenjo; Pena, Albiol, Torres, Quintilla; Anguissa, Iborra; Chukwueze, Cazorla, Gomez; Moreno

Real Betis

Real Betis’ star-man Borja Iglesias hasn’t really managed to find his scoring boots this season. But, the new signing from Espanyol will continue to retain his place in the starting lineup. He will form the two-man offensive combination with Loren Moron, who is the club’s top scorer with five goals.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 25: Nabil Fekir of Real Betis is challenged by Arturo Vidal of Barcelona during the Liga match between FC Barcelona and Real Betis at Camp Nou on August 25, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Nabil Fekir’s absence has been a huge blow for Real Betis. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Betis’ marquee signing Nabil Fekir is currently out injured, which means manager Rubi will have to choose between Joaquin, Cristian Tello or Diego Lainez in the attack. The 38-year-old Joaquin started against Levante in midweek and could be rested in this game, paving the way for Lainez to start on the left wing.

Sergio Canales will move to the right flank, while Andres Guardado and William Carvalho will form the double pivot at the base of Betis’ 4-4-2.

We might see one change in defence, with Emerson coming in for Antonio Barragan at right-back. Alex Moreno will retain his place on the opposite flank while Marc Bartra and Aissa Mandi will form the central defensive pairing, at the heart of the four-man backline.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Robles; Emerson, Mandi, Bartra, Moreno; Canales, Guardado, Carvalho, Lainez; Iglesias, Moron

Key Stats

  • Villarreal have lost two of their last nine La Liga matches against Real Betis, with both defeats coming at the Benito Villamarin Stadium.
  • Real Betis are winless in their last seven away games against Villarreal in La Liga.
  • Villarreal are winless in their last four games played on a Friday in La Liga, having won four of their previous six such matches.
  • Real Betis have won just one of their last seven away games against Valencian sides in La Liga.
  • Villarreal have scored in each of their last 19 La Liga games – their longest such run in La Liga history.

Player to Watch

Loren Moron

Real Betis' Spanish forward Loren Moron celebrates after scoring a goal during the Spanish League football match between Real Betis and Real Valladolid at the Benito Villamarin Stadium in Sevilla on August 18, 2019. (Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP) (Photo credit should read CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP/Getty Images)

Eyeing the back of the net? (Photo by Cristina Quicler/AFP/Getty Images)

Moron is the most in-form player coming into this game, having scored a brace during Real Betis’ 3-1 win over Levante in midweek. As iterated earlier, the striker is now the club’s top scorer with five league goals.

While Borja Iglesias has failed to find the back of the net on a consistent basis, Moron has supplied the goals for Betis, which, in turn, has been critical to their ninth place in the league table. Manager Rubi employed the 4-4-2 setup for the first time this season against Levante.

And if he follows the same method, Moron’s offensive partnership with Iglesias could be critical as Betis look to seal all three points away from home.

Prediction

Villarreal 2-2 Real Betis

There is a good chance this could turn out to be a high scoring fixture, with both sides boasting significant firepower in the attacking department. A lot will depend on how these two teams fare defensively. Villarreal may have the home advantage, but they have conceded 10 goals in 6 games already, same as Real Betis. We can expect a draw here with no shortage of goals.

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