Unai Emery has turned this January into a matter of survival. The plague of casualties that plagued the yellow team for too many weeks (up to eight players may be absent tonight against La Real) and the impossibility of being able to give rest to some of the key players in the submarine’s engine room, has ended by significantly affect the yellow team.
Far from being a brilliant team, as was shown against Granada or Huesca, the Basque coach has opted to shield his team so that it continues to be a reliable and solid team. It is hard for him to win but, while the tide lasts, he does not lose either and remains to cling to his European options.
And while recovering troops (especially Gerard Moreno) he has something to hold on to so as not to sink. Better times will come, although the reality of nursing indicates that there is still a lack of it.
Meanwhile, the tile makers, with no time to complain, are aware that they are facing one of their main rivals tonight for the European positions. After the goalless draw in the first leg and with a difference of three points in the table, a yellow victory would translate into three matches away in the table.
Indeed, there is still a world and many to play, but it is not a bad cushion given the current situation and the tough calendar that lies ahead with two competitions in contention and a third, the Europa League, just around the corner. In fact, Real is the last team that has been able to win at La Cerámica at the end of last season.
The Royal Society goes to the Estadio de la Ceramica aware that the three points at stake are very important in the fight for Europe so that Villarreal does not go six away and the teams that come strongly from behinds, such as Granada, Betis or Athletic, do not come closer.
After a single victory in 10 rounds, the Txuriurdin need to come out victorious again, for which they will have to find a replacement for Willian Jose, the star of their last three most recent.
The Real holds in the sixth position, despite that bad streak that has led them to add only eight points of the most recent 30, which together with the blows suffered in the Super Cup and the Copa del Rey makes it go through a difficult time, with Imanol Alguacil even already questioned.
The realist coach and his players know very well that returning to San Sebastian today would be the morale boost they need to resume their great career until two months ago, but to achieve it, as they did in their last two visits to the yellow submarine, they go to have to find a new hero, since they have just parted company with Willian Jose, a scorer on both occasions.
The Brazilian scored in the 1-2 of the last LaLiga and also in that marker that occurred in the previous one, in a field that was especially good for him, since he also scored in the previous 4-2, baggage to which he added two other targets at Anoeta, which made Villarreal his favorite victim.
With Willian Jose at Wolverhampton, Alex Isak will have to make his debut against the yellows, whom he has not scored since landing in Laliga, with Oyarzabal, Januzaj, or Portu also assuming greater responsibility, waiting for the newcomer Carlos Fernández to go out to throughout the game from the bench,