...and have no player injured at the end the game?
Such has been our luck with injuries this season. Every game, a few more go down. Nilmar, Rossi, Cani, Senna, Ruben, Camuñas and Zapata are all ruled out for tomorrow's game against Manchester City. The same City that had recently brushed aside defending champions of the English Premier League and derby rivals Manchester United 1-6. They are firing on all cylinders. With almost everyone available to choose from, it this going to be one hell of a result if we can get anything out of this game.
The physical and mental state of the two teams couldn’t have been much further apart. Manchester City is flying high. They haven’t lost game all season apart from the loss against Bayern Munich. They lead they EPL by 5 points after 10 games. David Silva is being discussed as the best player in EPL (and of course by default in the entire world). Balotelli, Dzeko and Aguero are in good goal scoring form. No major injury worries. The only worry for Mancini is picking just eleven players from the deep squad available at his disposal.
On the flip side of it is our story. We don’t have a fit first team striker. We don’t have enough first team players to name in the squad of eighteen. Joselu, the pichichi of Liga Adelante, Marco Gullon and Fofo are being called up from the B team to fill out the 18-man squad sheet. It is almost certain that Joselu will start the game as he is the only fit striker in the squad.
While we got a much needed win against Rayo Vallecano at home on Saturday, it came at the cost of four key injuries - Cani (6 weeks), Camuñas (doubtful for Espanyol), Marco Ruben (highly doubtful for Espanyol) and Marcos Senna (out till the Betis game after the FIFA break). Borja Valero probably had his best game of the season. If we have a prayer in this game, a lot will depend on how well he can play in the midfield.
Breaking down the match-ups
Allen and Ravi discuss the approaches and the possible line-ups of the two teams for tomorrow's clash at El Madrigal - duration 13 min
Manchester City is more talented and deeper in almost every position on the pitch save for the keeper position and may be the midfield if Borja Valero can pull off something extraordinary.
Dzeko is set to start because he looked very dangerous all game even though he didn’t score against us at the Ettihad stadium. Mancini's dilemma is probably whether to go with two strikers (most likely) and who among Balotelli and Aguero will he go with if he indeed chooses to play with two upfront. One thing is for sure. He won’t go too wrong either way. Both are supremely talented strikers that are in fine form.
If I were Mancini, I would probably keep Aguero on the bench just so that the controversial incident from the last game won’t become the focus of attention. As Allen suggests in the podcast, a petty card could rule him out of the all-important games against Napoli and Bayern.
Garrido on the other hand is almost forced to start Joselu. If he doesn’t, then we will line-up in Sid's favorite 4-6-0 or a 5-5-0 like we did in the 2nd half of the Real Madrid game. Mario will get the start at the right back in the absence of Zapata and Marchena probably gets the nod in the double-pivot. Borja will move into the middle of the three, flanked by De Guzman and Hernán Pérez behind Joselu.
Villarreal squad for the game: Fofo, Joselu & Marcos Gullon are the three B team guys added to the squad to make up the eighteen.
Keepers: Diego López and César.
Defenders: Mario, Gonzalo, Musacchio, Ángel, Joan Oriol, Marchena and Catalá.
Midfielders: Bruno, Borja Valero, De Guzmán, Hernán Pérez, Fofo, Wakaso and Marcos Gullón.
Strikers: Gerard and Joselu
Diego López; Mario-Musacchio-Gonzalo-Catalá; Bruno-Marchena; Hernán-Borja-De Guzman; Joselu
Manchester City 4-4-2
Hart; Zabaleta-Kompany-Richards-Lescott; De Jong-Yaya-Milner-Silva; Balotelli-Dzeko
Predictions and chances
Of course there is always a chance. As we saw in the game in Manchester, we matched them in intensity and football for most of the game. But we are much more weakened in terms of quality and experience due to the injuries.
The important thing for our team is to give something for the fans to look forward to. It is clear that the bigger battle for us lies in the league. We are two points off of the relegation zone and it is important that we have all our players finish the game without injuries.
The 'popular' prices are back at El Madrigal. Fans can get tickets to the game for as cheap as 8 euros through the members of the game. I expect a full house at El Madrigal and fans cheering the team.
Manchester City is taking this game very seriously. As Dzeko pointed out earlier this week, this is a must win game for City to keep their Champions league campaign on track, irrespective of what happens in the Bayern - Napoli game. Plus the fact that their next league game is at newly promoted side QPR which is followed by an international break, Mancini has nothing to hold back. He will go for it.
I don’t expect us to get a result in this game. The only way we can get one is if Diego López has a stellar game and keeps a clean-sheet for as long as possible.
To conclude on a positive note, when Mancini visited El Madrigal last time in 2006, his Inter were eliminated from the Champions League quarter-final by one man's performance and leadership. Juan Roman Riquelme. Can someone get inspired by this tomorrow?
Endavant Villarreal!! Vamos Submarino!!