On the back of three consecutive wins and a 2-2 draw against Sevilla since La Liga resumed earlier this month, Villarreal will take on regional rivals Valencia at the Estadio de la Ceramica on Sunday, 28 June 2020.
Valencia have won their last four matches against Villarreal across all competitions, including a 2-1 win in their previous meeting at the Mestalla earlier this season, as well as two victories in last season's UEFA Europa League quarter-finals.
Villarreal's most recent triumph over Valencia was a 1-0 victory in May 2018, which is their only win against their Valencian rivals in their last four matches at the Estadio de la Ceramica.
Valencia Betting Preview
The six-time La Liga champions have finished fourth in each of their last two La Liga campaigns, but a lot will have to change as they need results to fall their way in the final weeks if they are to claim a Champions League spot for the upcoming 2020-21 season.
Valencia suffered a disappointing defeat to Eibar on Thursday and The Bats remain eighth in the La Liga table, two points behind their opponents.
They have collected only four points from their four games since returning to action earlier this month, losing to both Real Madrid and Eibar, in addition to drawing with rivals Levante and their only victory – beating Osasuna 2-0 at the Mestalla last weekend.
Valencia have not won away from home in La Liga since a 4-2 win at city rivals Levante on 7 December, and their poor away form is the reason why Los Che will hardly defend their top-four status.
All in all, Albert Celades' side have won just 12 points from their 15 away games in La Liga and they consequently hold one of the worst away records in the Spanish top-flight.
Mouctar Diakhaby, Ezequiel Garay, Cristiano Piccini and Francis Coquelin are all injured for Valencia.
Eliaquim Mangala was sent-off against Eibar, so considering his suspension and the injuries of both Diakhaby and Garay, youngster Hugo Guillamon is expected to start alongside Gabriel Paulista at center-back.
Albert Celades is expected to shuffle his pack from the side that started in midweek, with either Maxi Gomez or Kevin Gameiro likely to partner Rodrigo Moreno up front.
Daniel Wass and Alessandro Florenzi are competing for the right-back spot, with the latter tipped to start, while Jaume Costa and Denis Cheryshev are among the others who will hope to get more playing time.
Villarreal Betting Preview
With seven games left to play, Javier Calleja's men have climbed to sixth place in the La Liga table and they have a good chance to return to Europe next season.
The Yellow Submarine finished 14th in 2018-19, which was their worst ranking since they returned to the Spanish top-flight in 2013. They clearly enjoy a much better campaign this season and even though they still have an opportunity to reach the top-four, it's more likely to believe that Villarreal should aim to remain in the top-six and claim one of the Europa League spots.
Indeed, after three consecutive defeats prior to the break, Javi Calleja's side looks inspired since La Liga resumed, beating the likes of Celta Vigo, Mallorca and Granada (all 1-0) before playing out a 2-2 draw with fourth-placed Sevilla on Monday.
Across the four matches since the Spanish top-flight returned to action, Calleja's side have conceded just twice, keeping three clean sheets in the process.
Villarreal's recent form has aided suggestions that they could sneak into the top four race, and another positive result this weekend would leave their fans dreaming of a return to the UEFA Champions League.
Ramiro Funes Mori remains the only considerable injury concern for the home side, but former Liverpool defender Alberto Moreno is suspended so Xavi Quintilla will likely deputize at left-back.
Manu Trigueros is also suspended, but the midfielder doesn't affect Javi Calleja's first-choice selection, with Andre Zambo Anguissa and Vicente Iborra both expected to start in central midfield, while veteran-skipper Bruno Soriano is also in contention.
Samu Chukwueze and Moi Gomez are in contention to start on the right side of Villarreal's midfield, while Santi Cazrola (8 goals and 7 assists in 28 La Liga matches) is one of the team's standout performers and will certainly keep his starting spot on the left.
Possible Starting Lineups of Villarreal and Valencia
Villarreal: Sergio Asenjo – Mario Gaspar, Raul Albiol, Pau Torres, Xavi Quintilla – Moi Gomez, Vicente Iborra, Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, Santi Cazorla – Paco Alcacer, Gerard Moreno. (4-4-2)
Valencia: Jasper Cillessen – Jose Gaya, Gabriel Paulista, Hugo Guillamon, Alessandro Florenzi – Goncalo Guedes, Geofrey Kondogbia, Daniel Parejo, Ferran Torres – Maxi Gomez, Rodrigo Moreno. (4-4-2)
Spooky Express Betting Prediction
The fact that the home side have not played since Monday is quite an advantage, particularly considering that Valencia had a tricky match at struggling Eibar on Thursday.
Both teams will fancy their chances of picking up a good result in the derby, but even though Villarreal are +128 favorites to beat Valencia +(215 @ BetOnline), we expect a high scoring game. Valencia won't give up that easily and shouldn't be written off.