Almería shook La Liga (LL) last weekend with a surprise 1-0 victory against Barcelona that not only put three consecutive LL losses behind them, but also inched them closer to the relative safety of mid-table. Following up that shock result with another win now looks to be a stern task for an Almería side who are yet to win back-to-back league games this season. Manager Rubi admitted that much himself when telling a radio station during the week that “this sport allows you to be very bad one day and very good the next”.
Almería vs Villarreal LIVE ONLINE | LaLiga
The visit of Villarreal could likely do little to boost belief that the home side can grab another win, especially given the Yellow Submarine were responsible for Almería’s joint-heaviest ever defeat (8-0 in the 2018/19 Copa del Rey). The reverse H2H of this LL season was a lot closer, with Almería on the wrong end of a 2-1 scoreline, but admirable losses will count for nought if they slide back down into the bottom-three in coming weeks.
Villarreal may have arrived one week too late for Almería’s liking, for they ended four consecutive LL losses last round with what manager Quique Setién described as a “necessary” 2-1 victory over Getafe. That halted their slide down the top half of the table and kept their hopes of a UEFA appearance next season alive, and they should now travel in a buoyant mood as a result.
With the return of the UEFA Europa Conference League on the horizon, and Villarreal’s first-leg clash with Anderlecht coming in the Belgian capital, securing just a second away league win since the end of August (D3, L6) would be the perfect warm-up for another busy period. Their away form (W3, D3, L6) has held them back from bigger things this season, but as far as this game is concerned their overall LL record of W7, D4, L1 against clubs starting this round in the bottom half could propel them provisionally into the top six.
Key battle: Not particularly known for his goalscoring exploits, Almería’s Rodrigo Ely has recorded two of his five career LL goals against Villarreal, both in the first half. His primary task here may be to keep quiet Villarreal’s Samuel Chukwueze who, after scoring against Getafe, has seen his last four LL goals arrive between the 40th-50th minute.
Hot stat: Villarreal have failed to score before half-time in nine of their 12 away league games this term.