The battle for sixth place in the La Liga table will heat up on Sunday, as Villarreal welcome Real Sociedad to the Estadio de la Ceramica.
With two games left to play, the visitors currently hold sixth spot with a three-point lead over their opponents, meaning a win would guarantee them a place in European competition next season.
After rising up through the pack and putting themselves in the conversation for a top-six finish, Villarreal seemingly paid the price for a gruelling Champions League run, as the two legs of their unsuccessful semi-final tie with Liverpool came either side of a disappointing 2-1 defeat to strugglers Alaves in La Liga.
Following their exit from the continental competition, the Yellow Submarine took on Sevilla, and they looked set to see out a 1-0 win thanks to Giovani Lo Celso’s late goal, only for the visitors to force a share of the spoils deep into injury time through Jules Kounde.
That saw Unai Emery’s men lose ground in the race for continental qualification, but they were then able to make a crucial return to winning ways last time out.
In that game, they thrashed Rayo Vallecano 5-1 on home turf as Alfonso Pedraza hit a brace alongside goals from Juan Foyth, Paco Alcacer and Pau Torres.
That victory saw them remain three points behind Sunday’s opponents, and, with a far superior goal difference, Villarreal would climb into the top six with a win at the Estadio de la Ceramica.
Meanwhile, Real Sociedad will make the trip looking to stretch that gap and confirm their top-six finish.
After being in the race for Champions League football for large parts of the season, Imanol Alguacil’s side experienced a dip in form at a crucial point, going four games without a victory from mid-April to the beginning of May.
Having only picked up two points in that span, La Real looked at risk of dropping out of the top six altogether, but they were able to bounce back to winning ways last time out.
Alguacil’s men hosted strugglers Cadiz, and they came out with a dominant 3-0 victory thanks to goals from Alexander Sorloth, Adnan Januzaj and Portu.
With that result keeping Villarreal at bay for the meantime, Real Sociedad will know they still need a result on Sunday to keep themselves in the European places.
Villarreal La Liga form:
Villarreal form (all competitions):
Real Sociedad La Liga form:
We say: Villarreal 1-1 Real Sociedad
With so much on the line on Sunday, we predict a tight encounter and see a share of the spoils as the most likely outcome.
While the hosts desperately need a win in their pursuit of European qualification, the losses of Danjuma and Moreno could hit them hard against a stronger defence, and we do not see them putting La Real to the sword with a makeshift front line.