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Aug 16, 2021 at 7pm UK at Estadio de la Cerámica
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Foyth (20'), Moreno (41'), Capoue (53'), Pena (85')
Foyth (82')

Sanchez (71')

Preview: Villarreal vs. Granada - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Monday's La Liga clash between Villarreal and Granada, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Villarreal will be looking to bounce back from their UEFA Super Cup disappointment when they open their 2021-22 La Liga campaign at home to Granada on Monday night.

The Yellow Submarine, who won the Europa League last term, lost on penalties to Chelsea in the Super Cup on Wednesday, but this will be Granada's first competitive fixture in three months.

Match preview

Villarreal's Gerard Moreno celebrates scoring against Manchester United in the Europa League final on May 26, 2021© Reuters

Villarreal won 15, drew 13 and lost 10 of their 38 La Liga matches last season to finish seventh, three points behind sixth-place Sevilla and some 19 points behind Sevilla in fourth position.

The Yellow Submarine will compete in the group stage of the 2021-22 Champions League, though, courtesy of their win over Manchester United in last season's Europa League final; the two teams could not be separated at the end of 120 minutes, but Unai Emery's side won 11-10 in the penalty shootout.

Villarreal also played out a 1-1 draw with Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday night, but they lost the shootout 6-5 on this occasion, with Aissa Mandi and Raul Albiol missing their spot kicks against the Blues.

Emery's side have signed Juan Foyth on a permanent deal this summer, while they have also brought in Boulaye Dia, Manu Morlanes and Mandi to boost the squad for the 2021-22 campaign.

Villarreal will be expecting to push closer to the top four this term, and it will be fascinating to see how the team perform in their first Champions League group-stage campaign since 2011-12.

Granada's Darwin Machis celebrates scoring against Barcelona in La Liga on April 29, 2021© Reuters

Granada, meanwhile, secured a third straight season at this level of football courtesy of finishing ninth last season, with 13 wins, seven draws and 18 defeats seeing them collect 46 points.

The Andalusian side have finished seventh and ninth since returning to the top flight, and they are now under the leadership of former Spain boss Robert Moreno, who has replaced Diego Martinez at the helm.

Granada have not spent a transfer fee on any player this summer, but they have managed to bring in Luis Abram, Carlos Bacca and Monchu, while Roberto Soldado, Rui Silva and Fede Vico have moved on.

Moreno's team have played five friendlies this summer, recording three victories, including back-to-back wins over Linense and Malaga in their final two pre-season fixtures.

Granada have not actually beaten Villarreal in Spain's top flight since 2014, but the corresponding match during the 2020-21 campaign ended in a 2-2 draw.

Villarreal form (all competitions):
  • L

Granada pre-season form:
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • W

Team News

Villarreal's Samuel Chukwueze pictured in November 2020© Reuters

Villarreal will again be without the services of Dani Parejo and Samuel Chukwueze through injury, while Francis Coquelin remains a doubt for the Yellow Submarine.

Pau Torres, who is currently being strongly linked with a move to Tottenham Hotspur, has been given the early stages of the season off due to his busy summer with Spain, so new signing Mandi could start at the back.

Alberto Moreno played as a left-sided midfielder against Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup and that could again be the case here, with recent arrival Dia joining Gerard Moreno as part of a front two.

As for Granada, Neyder Lozano is out with a fractured leg, while Yan Eteki is also expected to be unavailable for selection due to a muscular problem.

Moreno's squad is otherwise in good shape, and it would not be a surprise to see a 4-5-1 formation, with Darwin Machis and Antonio Puertas supporting the lone forward Luis Suarez.

Maxime Gonalons, Angel Montoro and Luis Milla should start as the three central midfielders, with the trio of new signings - Abram, Bacca and Monchu - potentially being named among the substitutes.

Villarreal possible starting lineup:
Asenjo; Foyth, Mandi, Albiol, Pedraza; Pino, Trigueros, Capoue, A Moreno; G Moreno, Dia

Granada possible starting lineup:
Escandell; Foulquier, Duarte, Sanchez, Neva; Puertas, Montoro, Gonalons, Milla, Machis; Suarez

SM words green background

We say: Villarreal 2-1 Granada

Granada are certainly a team to be taken seriously at this level of football, and it would not be a surprise to see them claim another top-half finish this term. Wednesday's Super Cup fixture would have been valuable for Villarreal in terms of building fitness, though, and we can see the home side edging out a victory in this contest to put an early three points on the board.

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