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

:Headline: Preview: Levante vs. Villarreal - prediction, team news, lineups: ID:433231: from db_amp
Sports Mole previews Wednesday's Copa del Rey clash between Levante and Villarreal, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Levante welcome Villarreal to the Estadi Ciutat de Valencia on Wednesday in Copa del Rey quarter-final action as the sides battle for a place in the final four of the competition.

Both teams will face their toughest test to date in this cup campaign, after Levante progressed by beating Real Valladolid, while Wednesday's visitors beat Segunda Division side Girona.

Match preview

Levante progressed into the final eight of the competition with a 4-2 win away at La Liga strugglers Real Valladolid. Toni Villa gave the hosts an early lead, but goals from Enis Bardhi, Mickael Malsa and Coke swung the tie in the favour of the La Liga outfit, before captain Jose Luis Morales added a fourth from the penalty spot to seal his side's ticket into this round.

In the previous round, Paco Lopez's side required penalties to beat Segunda Division outfit Fuenlabrada. Levante were handed an early 1-0 lead through an own goal, but a Borja Garces goal for the second-tier outfit took the tie to extra time, after neither side managed to get a winner in this period, the tie went to a penalty shootout.

After a penalty save by Levante keeper Dani Cardenas and a miss from Fuenlabrada, the deciding spot kick was taken by Levante defender Oscar Duarte, who made no mistake and sent his side through.

Las Granotas come into this game with some great form all round, currently sitting seven games unbeaten in all competitions, with the most recent result of this run being the most impressive, a 2-1 win in La Liga over Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.

Madrid defender Eder Militao was shown a red card after just nine minutes, but Marco Asensio gave Los Blancos the lead after 13 minutes, before a Jose Luis Morales goal levelled the game going into half time. Roger Marti then scored the winning goal for Lopez's side, sealing a deserved sixth league win of the season.

This win could send out a big message to Villarreal, who should not underestimate a Levante side high on confidence.

Unai Emery's side advanced into this round of the competition thanks to a narrow 1-0 win away at Girona, with an early Yeremi Pino goal ensuring the Yellow Submarine were present in the final eight.

They also come into this quarter-final tie in some strong form, having not lost in their last eight matches in all competitions, recording five wins in this time.

Since his appointment as manager at the start of the season, the Spaniard has seen his side win 17 of 31 games under his tutelage, with just two losses in all competitions.

As a result, Villarreal sit in a strong position in La Liga, currently occupying fifth spot, just five points behind second-placed Barcelona, while they won their Europa League group with 16 points, winning five of their six matches and drawing the other.

They will also be encouraged by their home league win over Wednesday's opponents in early January. Goals from Fernando Nino and Gerard Moreno gave the hosts a 2-0 lead, while a Sergio Leon goal in the second half was not enough to salvage a result for Levante.

Having beaten Leioa, Zamora, Tenerife and Girona so far this Copa del Rey campaign, Emery will be hoping his side are up to the challenge of knocking out La Liga opposition as they look to secure a spot in the final four.

Levante Copa del Rey form: WWWW
Levante form (all competitions): WWDDWW

Villarreal Copa del Rey form: WWWW
Villarreal form (all competitions): WWDDWD

Team News

The home side are faced with several injuries coming into this game, including midfielder Cheick Doukoure, who is yet to appear for Las Granotas this season with a long-term tendon injury.

Doukoure is joined on the sidelines by fellow midfielders Jose Campana and Nikola Vukcevic, who are both out with injuries, while winger Jorge de Frutos also misses out with a muscle injury picked up recently. The Spaniard has recorded two goals and five assists in La Liga for Levante this season, and he will be a big miss for Paco Lopez.

Unai Emery also has several injury concerns to deal with. Nigerian winger Samuel Chukwueze, who has featured in 17 of Villarreal's 21 La Liga games this season, recently picked up a groin injury and will miss this fixture.

Left-back Jaume Costa should remain unavailable for this cup tie as he is still in quarantine following a positive COVID-19 test, while fellow full-back Alberto Moreno is also out for the majority of the season with a ligament rupture picked up in September.

Their defensive issues do not stop there either, with centre-back Juan Foyth and right-back Mario Gaspar both out with muscle injuries.

The biggest recent loss for Emery is top scorer Gerard Moreno, who has missed Villarreal's last four matches with an injury. The Spanish forward has 10 goals and two assists in 19 appearances this season, and Paco Alcacer is likely to start up front in Moreno's absence.

Levante possible starting lineup:
Cardenas; Miramon, Postigo, Duarte, Tono; Malsa, Melero; Morales, Bardhi, Son; Leon

Villarreal possible starting lineup:
Asenjo; Pena, Torres, Funes, Estupinan; Coquelin, Capoue, Parejo; Trigueros, Alcacer, Gomez

We say: Levante 1-2 Villarreal

We can see this being a very close encounter between two sides in good form, but both missing some important players.

We believe the slightly superior quality of Villarreal will shine through in this game and see the Yellow Submarine through to the semi-finals, with Dani Parejo potentially controlling the match from the midfield for the visitors.

Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a double chance bet on a home win or an away win 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.Home/Away:curl

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