The Estadio de la Ceramica will host a meeting between Villarreal and Granads as the pair kick off their new campaigns in La Liga at 8pm on Saturday night. The two haven’t met since 2016/2017, where the most recent result involving the pair was a 2-0 victory in favour of this weekend’s home side. Now, Granada will want to start their first game back in Spain’s top flight on a high, whereas Villarreal will want to push for European places from the very beginning.
As July came to an end, Villarreal were in a fantastic vein of form having won three on the bounce, and they made it four when FC Koln were put to the sword by goals from Funes Mori, Gerard Moreno and Carlos Bacca. A disappointing loss, their only one of pre-season, arrived at the hands of German side Schalke, but a 0-4 obliteration of La Nucia soon got them back on their feet once more. More recently, Villarreal faced off against Italian outfit Bologna in a thrilling ninety minutes which saw seven goals, four of which were scored by this weekend’s home team. Therefore, they are ready to go out and bag some more soon.
Granada won each and every game they took part in this summer, keeping four clean sheets in six friendlies. Despite those games just being friendly matches, Granada supporters will be very pleased with how their side went about business, as they can only beat what’s put in front of them. A 1-0 victory versus Almeria was succeeded by an impressive 2-1 win against Real Valladolid, while Las Palmas were handed a 2-0 loss through strikes from Darwin Machis and Rodri in the second half. Their final outing of pre-season came against Sevilla, a formidable opponent, yet German Sanchez and Adrian Ramos ensured that Diego Carlos’ equalizer meant nothing as they won with a last gasp winner.
Bruno Soriano is the sole injury concern for Javi Calleija ahead of this one as the 35-year-old struggles with a knee injury he picked up in June. Andre Anguissa will be hoping to make a good first impression after joining from relegated Fulham in July, while Moi Gomez, who has two assists in his last four matches, moved to the club from Sporting Gijon for an undisclosed fee and he too will be aiming for a positive start to life at Villarreal.
Neyder Lozano isn’t expected to feature here due to a knee injury, and Alex Martinez should remain out of action until later this month with a hamstring issue. Lozano will be disappointed if he can’t take part on Saturday after joining from Elche on a free transfer, and free agent Roberto Soldado, the veteran striker, is on the hunt for another goal-rich campaign having netted fifteen times in two seasons whilst playing in the Turkish Super Lig.
It’s always difficult – yet at the same time exciting – for a newly promoted club to settle back in to life in a top flight division, especially when they come up against teams that always remain a couple of places above the relegation spots. With few injuries and a squad that is expected to compete in the top half, we can see the home team coming away with all three points here, however it will likely be closer than many expect. Our first tip is for their top-scorer from last season, Karl Toko Ekambia, to net anytime in this one @ 2.50. After finishing fourteenth during 2018/2019 and underperforming massively, Granada will feel that they can get at this defence and with an experienced attacker like Soldado now at the club, a goal at some point wouldn’t be surprising. Our second tip is Villarreal to win and BTTS @ 3.25.