Preview: Celta Vigo vs. Villarreal - prediction, team news, lineups
Source: Sportsmole

Sports Mole previews Sunday's La Liga clash between Celta Vigo and Villarreal, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Celta Vigo's battle to stay out of the La Liga relegation zone will continue on Sunday afternoon when they welcome European hopefuls Villarreal to the Estadio Municipal de Balaidos.

The hosts are currently 17th in the table, five points above 18th-placed Cadiz, while Villarreal occupy ninth spot, four points behind seventh-placed Real Betis.

Match preview Celta Vigo's Iago Aspas celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on February 17, 2024 Reuters

Claudio Giraldez has guided Celta to two wins from his five matches in charge since replacing Rafael Benitez as head coach of the club on March 12.

There have been a lot of positive signs under the 36-year-old, but the Sky Blues have now lost two of their last three matches, including a 3-0 defeat at Alaves last time out.

Celta remain in relegation trouble, sitting 17th in the division, five points ahead of 18th-placed Cadiz with five games left; Cadiz will head to Real Madrid on Saturday, though, so a win for the home side here could put them in a very strong position with just four games left.

The Vigo outfit boast a record of seven wins, 10 draws and 16 losses from their 33 league games this season, while they have conceded 50 times, which is the fourth-worst defensive record, with Villarreal actually third on that list, having shipped 55 goals in Spain's top flight this term.

Celta have the third-worst home record in La Liga this season, only picking up 17 points from 16 matches, but they have picked up seven points from the last nine available in front of their own supporters.

Villarreal, meanwhile, have the fifth-best away record in the league this season, picking up 23 points from 16 matches, and they can also call upon a strong recent set of results against Celta.

Indeed, the Yellow Submarine have won three of their last four La Liga matches against Celta, including a 3-2 victory when the two sides locked horns in the reverse fixture earlier this season.

Marcelino's side will enter this match off the back of successive wins over Almeria and Rayo Vallecano, while they have only lost once in Spain's top flight since January 13.

Poor form in the first half of the campaign has cost them a spot higher up the division, but Villarreal still have an outside chance of finishing seventh or sixth, which would see them qualify for Europe next term.

The Yellow Submarine are ninth in the table, four points from seventh-placed Real Betis and six from sixth-placed Real Sociedad, and they will bring a six-game unbeaten run away from home in the league into this match, which started with a 5-3 success over Barcelona at the end of January.

Celta Vigo La Liga form:

Villarreal La Liga form:

Villarreal form (all competitions):

Team News Villarreal's Jose Luis Morales celebrates scoring their fifth goal with teammates on January 27, 2024 Reuters

Celta will be boosted by the return of leading goalscorer Jorgen Strand Larsen this weekend, with the 24-year-old, who has 11 league strikes to his name this term, serving a suspension against Alaves.

The Sky Blues are still missing three players through injury, though, with Renato Tapia, Joseph Aidoo and Carlos Dotor unavailable for selection.

Head coach Giraldez is expected to resist the temptation to shuffle his pack, but Larsen is guaranteed to return in the final third of the field, while Williot Swedberg could also be introduced into the XI.

As for Villarreal, Bertrand Traore, Eric Bailly, Juan Foyth, Denis Suarez and Yeremy Pino remain unavailable for selection, while Alfonso Pedraza and Gerard Moreno require late fitness tests.

Head coach Marcelino could decide to name the same side that took to the field for the first whistle against Rayo last time out, with Goncalo Guedes set to start if Gerard Moreno is not available.

Alex Baena and Ilias Akhomach should continue in the wide positions, while Santi Comesana is again likely to feature alongside Dani Parejo in the middle of midfield.

Celta Vigo possible starting lineup:Guaita; Mingueza, Dominguez, Nunez; Perez, Beltran, Jailson, Sanchez; Aspas, Larsen, Swedberg

Villarreal possible starting lineup:Jorgensen; Femenia, Albiol, Mosquera, A Moreno; Akhomach, Comesana, Parejo, Baena; Guedes, Sorloth

We say: Celta Vigo 1-2 Villarreal Villarreal are in a strong run of form, and although Celta are battling for their lives, we are predicting a narrow away victory here, which would strengthen Villarreal's hopes of a European finish this term. Alexander Sorloth has scored nine times in his last eight league appearances and could be the difference between the two sides in this contest.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.