Los Rojillos have toiled in the early part of the season, but will aim to continue their unbeaten home run against los Granotes...
Jose Antonio Camacho’s sides may be renowned for their organisation and defensive resilience, but they are not noted for their goal scoring, and Osasuna must start to find the net with greater regularity if they are to avoid being dragged into a prolonged relegation dogfight. That quest continues in Pamplona against Levante on Sunday afternoon.
In four of their five Primera Division matches to date, los Rojillos have been shut out, with all three of their goals this term arriving against Real Sociedad in a fixture that was won 3-1. Meanwhile, a 0-0 draw against Almeria is the only other game in which the Navarre side have claimed so much as a point.
Tellingly, both these fixtures have been played at home, and with los Granotes visiting the Reyno de Navarra this weekend, it’s vitally important Osasuna maintain their unbeaten record on familiar soil, particularly if their away day struggles are to continue for any prolonged period.
Josetxo was pleased with the performance of the squad last weekend as they went down 1-0 away to Espanyol, blaming Lolo’s early red card as a decisive factor in the match. “The feeling of the team was good,” he told Marca. “The expulsion complicated everything... But we earned much credit as we played with ten players. It was a continuation of the game against the Real Sociedad.”
Osasuna are in no position to be playing handicapped matches, so keeping their discipline will be crucial at the weekend. If los Rojillos can do that, they can certainly earn another victory against newly promoted opponents.
Levante may have struggled initially in La Liga, but they’ve started to show signs of picking up some form. Los Granotes seemed set to be cast adrift at the foot of the table as they lost all three of their opening league matches, yet a 1-0 success against Almeria and a 0-0 draw against Real Madrid suddenly make the picture look a good deal brighter.
The scoreless draw against los Blancos will have been a particularly morale-boosting result as the Valencia side know they can now compete and win points against any side in the league.
“We must take the confidence to know that we have many things to say in the first division. It is essential that we feel strong,” coach Luis Garcia told the media, explaining that the turning point in Levante’s season was a 2-1 home defeat against Villarreal, in which they at least pushed their guests all the way.
Last weekend’s tie was the first time that los Granotes have failed to score this term, indicating that they have enough in attack to hurt teams if they can just stay steady at the back. After leaking eight goals in their opening two fixtures, Levante seem to have cleared this problem somewhat, conceding only twice since.
Lolo is suspended after being dismissed before even a quarter of last weekend’s game had been played, potentially leaving Osasuna significantly depleted in the centre of their defence as Sergio Fernandez is still uncertain to play due to a knee injury.
Javad Nekounam (tendonitis) and Shojaei Masoud (illness) are both doubtful for the game.
Real Madrid criticised Levante’s physical approach to last weekend’s game, yet it was los Granotes who picked up the only serious injury of the match as Nacho Gonzalez has been ruled out for six months due to knee ligament damage.
Asier Del Horno has also been ruled out of the fixture, while Felipe Caicedo has been working outside the main squad for part of this week.