Villarreal play what should be a very easy match today, against a team that has given up 19 goals in four matches this season, including thirteen in the last two, dropping 1-6 and 7-1 results to Barca and Madrid. So perhaps Sporting de Gijon is a little out of its league this season?
Villarreal do face some danger - and perhaps the worst kind - the possibility of overlooking this match. The Yellow Submarine hosts Celtic in a must-win Champions League showdown in midweek, and come in tied for top of the table in La Liga. Things are going perfectly in little Vila-Real, which is always the most dangerous time to face a struggling team, especially in a stadium like El Molinón.
But Pellegrini should have his charges ready, and the players seem in tune. The season is still young, and Villarreal has shown a determination to rack up points in the league, aiming at least at another CL qualification for next season.
Unfortunately for US fans (not that the match made television coverage here in the States), Villarreal will not call on Jozy Altidore again this match. It seems that with the return of Rossi and Nihat, as well as the back to form Llorente, Altidore may have seen his last pitch-time until the Copa del Rey starts up.
Pellegrini's call-up list:
- Keepers: Diego López and Viera.
- Defenders: Javi Venta, Ángel, Capdevila, Gonzalo, Godín and Fuentes.
- Midfield: Eguren, Edmilson, Senna, Cazorla, Matías Fernández, Pires and Ibagaza.
- Strikers: Guille Franco, Llorente, Rossi and Nihat.
It is going to be harder and harder to call a starting lineup up front, with the mercurial front Villarreal has available. I am a little disappointed that Bruno will not get the start in leftback today. Capdevila has played a lot, and it is not going to slow down for him any time soon. I would expect Javi Venta to rotate in for Ángel, but I can't be sure after the excellent attacking form he showed midweek.
My projected lineup:
Javi Venta - Godín - Fuentes - Capdevila
Cazorla - Senna - Edmilson - Mati
Nihat - Llorente
It is a pure guess about Fuentes sliding in for Gonzalo - I could really see him taking the place of Gonzalo or Godín, since both have picked up a couple of yellows, and could use some rest for the Celtic match. Unless Pellegrini is saving him specifically for Celtic, I would expect Edmilson to start in front of Eguren today (primarily for rest - Eguren has been playing fine). And I do not think Rossi will get the start, but I am positive he will get his opportunity today.
Prediction: Well, I don't think we are going to put up a 1-6 or 1-7 shellacking, but I think we are going to put on a good show. I think López will keep up his scoreless streak, and it is only a matter of time until Nihat gets into his scoring groove. 0-4 (Nihat (2), Llorente, Cazorla)