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Copa del Rey | Round of 32
Jan 8, 2024 at 3.30pm UK
Pistas del Helmantico
Villarreal logo

1 - 1

Planas (87' pen.)
Camus (10'), Jimenez (62'), Mayor (110')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Akhomach (82')
Parejo (14'), Cuenca (73'), Comesana (86'), Sorloth (89'), Terrats (100'), Coquelin (108')

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

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Copa del Rey clash between Unionistas and Villarreal, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

A fairytale beckons for Unionistas de Salamanca as they welcome La Liga giants Villarreal to the Estadio Reina Sofía in the round of 32 of the Copa del Rey on Sunday.

The Segunda B minnows will be bidding to upset the Yellow Submarine and etch their name in the cup's legendary lore by claiming one of the biggest scalps in their history.

Match preview

Villarreal coach Marcelino reacts on December 5, 2023© Reuters

Los Unionistas are no strangers to defying the odds, having clawed their way from the sixth tier of Spanish football to the third tier within 10 years of being established as a club.

Their Copa del Rey journey already boasts 2-0 victories over Segunda B side Gernika and Segunda Division side Sporting Gijon, with the win over the latter in the last round sending shockwaves through Spanish football.

It has been a tough campaign to date so far for the Unionistas, who are 13th in the Primera Federacion Group 1 table with 22 points, boasting a record of five wins, seven draws and six losses from their 18 league matches this season.

However, the home side kickstarted the year positively with a 2-0 win over Barcelona Athletic, which was just the second win in their last 11 league matches.

Manager Dani Ponz will hope home advantage and the electric atmosphere of the Reina Sofía will add another layer of inspiration to their underdog charm on Sunday in what will be their first ever match against the Yellow Submarine.

Villarreal, meanwhile, will enter this match off the back of a 3-1 defeat against Valencia on Tuesday, with Gerard Moreno getting a consolation goal after the Castellon-based side had already conceded three goals before the hour mark.

Marcelino's side have won just five matches, drawn four and lost 10 of their 19 league matches this season to sit 13th in La Liga with 19 points, only four points above the relegation zone.

The Yellow Submarine have won just two of their last seven matches in all competitions and have lost their last two matches on the road.

Villarreal have never won the Copa del Rey, which makes it a priority alongside the Europa League this season.

Marcelino's men will know they are not in for an easy ride on Sunday as it took a goal in extra time to advance past Segunda B side Zamora CF in the previous round.

Unionistas Copa del Rey form:

Unionistas form (all competitions):
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • W

Villarreal Copa del Rey form:

Villarreal form (all competitions):

Team News

Villarreal's Gerard Moreno celebrates scoring their first goal with Alexander Sorloth on November 12, 2023© Reuters

Unionistas head coach Ponz could name close to the same XI that took to the field for the first whistle against Gijon in the previous round of the competition.

A 4-4-2 formation should include Slavy and Ewan Urain in attack, while Alfred Planas and Adrian Gomez occupy the flanks.

The Yellow Submarine, meanwhile, will be missing a number of players through injury, with Juan Foyth, Yeremi Pino and Denis Suarez unavailable.

Alexander Sorloth and Raul Albiol have to pass late fitness tests for a chance to feature on Sunday, while Aissa Mandi is away on international duty with the Algerian national team.

Unionistas possible starting lineup:
Cacharron; Gimenez, Ramiro, Ruiz, Rojo; Planas, Tur, Rastrojo, Gomez; Urain, Slavy

Villarreal possible starting lineup:
Jorgensen; Moreno, Bailly, Cuenca, Altimira; Capoue, Parejo, Terrats; Akhomach, Morales, Moreno

SM words green background

We say: Unionistas 1-2 Villarreal

Unionistas will put up a good fight fuelled by the home support, but it might not be enough to make up for the gulf in quality between the two sides.

We expect this to be a close game but Villarreal should edge it in the end.

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

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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