11:00 GMT, Sunday 25th February, Estadio de la Ceramica (Vila-real, Spain) Sky Sports Football
After a six-match unbeaten run which saw them come within touching distance of the top four, Villarreal’s form has collapsed of late. The Yellow Submarine have lost four of their last five games in all competitions and are now in danger of slipping out of the top six. A disappointing defeat in the Europa League has further compounded the sense of frustration amongst fans at Estadio de la Ceramica and pressure is beginning to mount on manager Javier Calleja.
The suspension of defender Ruben Semedo as a result of serious criminal charges could not have come at a worse time. Villarreal need to start to turn things around quickly to avoid turning a promising season into a disappointing year.
Getafe may have had to rely on the play-off route to promotion last season, yet they have looked more than comfortable in the top-tier this time around. The side from South Madrid are in ninth-place place, only five points behind sixth-placed Villarreal. Unbeaten in their last six La Liga games, Getafe are beginning to look like the real deal and are developing the belief that they can secure an unlikely European spot.
Jose Bordalas has his chargers playing with a real sense of combined purpose and they have proved very difficult to break down this season. A win on Sunday could see them move within two points of the top six.
Last Time Out
Villarreal 0-1 (1-4 on aggregate) Lyon (UEFA Europa League-Round of 32-Second Leg)
The Yellow Submarine were very disappointing in their second leg against French side Lyon. Javier Calleja’s side have grown used to success in this competition and showed very little sign of recovering from a disastrous first leg performance.
Villarreal looked blunt in attack and as much as they tried to force the issue they lacked the fluidity to provide any genuine threat.
Jaume Costa’s sending off in the 78th minute added to their misery, before a defensive lapse allowed Bertrand Traore to tap in Lyon’s fourth goal over the two legs.
Getafe 3-0 Celta Vigo (La Liga)
Getafe completely outclassed their opponents last week. Despite having little over 30% of possession they limited Celta Vigo to only one shot on target and looked dangerous whenever they went forward themselves.
The home side took the lead through a strike from Angel Rodriguez in the 37th minute after passing up several good opportunities in the opening exchanges.
The lead was doubled six minutes after the break thanks to a sliding effort from Jorge Molina, before a brilliant volley from Angel Rodriguez added deserved emphasis to the scoreline.
Javier Calleja has a number of absences to contend with this weekend.
Goalkeeper Andres Fernandez (cruciate ligament) and midfielder Bruno Soriano (leg) will be missing through injury.
There are also doubts over the fitness of attacker Nicola Sansone (calf) and he is unlikely to feature.
Centre back Alvaro Gonzalez will miss out through suspension having reached his yellow card maximum and Ruben Semedo is unavailable for selection as he faces criminal charges.
Jose Bordalas will be without midfielder Markel Bergara (foot) and right back Damian Suarez (red card suspension) on Sunday.
More positively, left back Vitorino Antunes should be fit to take his place in the side having recovered from injury.
Key Battle: Carlos Bacca (Villarreal) vs Bruno Gonzalez (Getafe)
The departure of Cedric Bakambu in the January window left Carlos Bacca with the responsibility of leading the line. The Milan-loanee initially appeared to adjust well to his new role, scoring three goals in as many games at the end of January. He has now gone thee matches without scoring, however, and is looking devoid of confidence.
The 31-year-old has scored eights goals this season, meaning that he still trails Bakambu despite playing three more games. If his form begins to plataeu then Villarreal will find themselves in real trouble, without any other strikers of his quality to step-up.
Bruno managed to break into the first team over the winter period and has quickly established himself as a key part of Getafe’s defensive unit. The 27-year-old played a starring role in his side’s recent 0-0 draw with Barcelona and will hope for a repeat performance on Sunday.
The centre back brings an assuredness to the backline and inspires calm in his defensive colleagues. Getafe are looking impressively robust at the back and this is in no small part down to the efforts of Bruno. If he can remain injury free then he could prove to be a very shrewd signing indeed.
The unwelcome distraction of Ruben Semedo
Villarreal’s poor on-the-field form will certainly not be helped by the off-the-field drama concerning centre back Ruben Semedo. The 23-year-old has hardly featured for The Yellow Submarine this season, making only three La Liga starts, but his recent arrest will bring controversy to the club at a time where they require singular focus to pull themselves out of a poor run.
It cost £12 million to prise him away from Sporting Lisbon last summer and the club’s hierarchy will be disappointed that his experience this season has so far been overwhelmingly negative. This kind of controversy has the potential to divide the dressing-room and players close to Semedo are unlikely to avoid being distracted as the story continues to unfold.
No team outside of the current top four have lost fewer games than Getafe. Abelardo’s side have tasted defeat only seven times in 24 matches and are currently on a six game unbeaten run. They play with a remarkable consistency of defensive focus and have defied the liked of Barcelona and Sevilla in recent weeks. Messi and his colleagues found it impossible to break down the Getafe defensive unit, even with the support of Camp Nou behind them.
Getafe have now gone three games without conceding a goal and the defensive cover afforded by Mauro Arambarri and Faycal Fajr has been invaluable of late. The absence of Damian Suarez will come as a blow, but Getafe have adapted well to reshuffles this season. They are more than happy to play without the ball, averaging less than 40% of possession in La Liga fixtures this season. Villarreal’s attacking style may play right into their hands.
Prediction: Villarreal 1-1 Getafe
The Yellow Submarine are lacking in confidence and their attacking play has lost much of the incisiveness exhibited in the first half of the season. A tough mid-week game in the Europa League will leave them less fresh than their opponents and they may struggle to create chances. Getafe are in buoyant mood and will be confident in their ability to resist Villarreal’s attacking line. It could be a very tight game indeed, but expect the spoils to be shared.
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