Villarreal must be one of the last teams that Alavés manager Luis García wants to face. Not only will it remind him of his disastrous spell in charge of Villarreal, where he was sacked after two months without a La Liga win (4D, 2L), but García has also failed to beat Villarreal in three attempts (2D, 1L) as manager of two different clubs.
There have been enough recent signs to suggest that run could come to an end, even though Alavés’ four-match unbeaten run in La Liga (3W, 1D) came to an end against Barcelona last Saturday (3-1). García claimed that the game was far more even than the scoreline suggests, and should be particularly pleased that his side found the net for the fifth consecutive league game, having failed to score a single goal in December.
Alavés had gone seven games without a win (3D, 4L) when they took the lead at Villarreal before drawing 1-1 in October, and the visitors will need to be wary of both their opponents’ improvement and their own inconsistency. Home draws against relegation-threatened Mallorca (1-1) and Cádiz (0-0) were preceded by a freakish 5-3 win at Barcelona. As a result, the favorites have failed to win in four of the Yellow Submarine’s last five outings.
Virtually all of Villarreal’s La Liga points this season have come against teams also in the bottom half of the table (5W, 6D, 1L), with a 3-1 reverse at Cádiz in September their only defeat. That poor record against top-half teams perhaps explains why they go into this matchday just seven points above the relegation zone, but their results against teams around them in the standings mean it would be a surprise if they returned to Castellón empty-handed, as they have done on their last two trips to Alavés.
Players to watch: Alavés midfielder Ander Guevara has picked up six yellow cards this season and is treading a fine line after being booked in three of his last four home appearances. Gerard Moreno’s last four goals for Villarreal in all competitions have all come away from home, while he has scored in four of his last five meetings with Alavés.
Hot stat: The last six meetings at Alavés have all produced exactly three goals.