Bruno--our rock in the middle. (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)
Dia del descanso for the players yesterday after their comeback against Getafe, and VillarrealUSA rested as well. Back to work today, though, preparing for Porto on Thursday.
Espanyol pulled out a big win (from the Submarine perspective) over Athletic Bilbao. Curiously, Fernando Llorente didn't start, and though he came on later, once the Basques had drawn level they seemed content to play for a draw--which didn't work out. Is it time for Caparrós to move on?
A couple of notes about upcoming La Liga matches for Villarreal. Firstly, remember that this Sunday's match against Mallorca starts at 6AM EDT. Supposedly one reason (or the reason) for this was related to a request from Israeli goalkeeper Aouate not to play on a secular Israeli holiday (Veterans' Day, basically). Well, Aouate fractured his cheekbone last weekend so will miss the game. Mallorca fans are being obnoxious in advance of our visit, making videos celebrating Porto's first leg victory. And if Mallorca HAD remained in the Europa League, does anyone think they would have qualified from the group stage? Let it go, people. Not that they will.
Also--Wednesday's match against Almeria will now take place one hour earlier than originally scheduled, 2PM EDT (8PM in Vila-real).
A reminder that at this point Villarreal can assure themselves of no worse than a fourth-place finish with three more points (I would so love it if we defeated Mallorca to accomplish that!!) AND a draw or loss by Atletico Madrid or Sevilla in one of their remaining four games. News from those two teams: the mattress-makers are preparing to sell ex-Villarreal and World Cup star Diego Forlan, probably to Turkey. He's clearly been suffering from some post-WC burnout, but I will be sorry if he's not in La Liga anymore.
And another ex-Villarreal man, Martin Caceres, will miss the remainder of the season after being injured against Almeria, as will Ivan Rakitic--a big loss for Sevilla.
And finally, the Racing Santander story continues to run. In case you missed Sid Lowe's story about the disappearance of Racing's owner and their players' continued wait for money, it's here; the latest update is that due to the failure of Ali to make payments, the old owners can take the club back--but then they have to assume its debt as well. Meanwhile, Cantabria politicians who originally took credit for the deal must be wishing the whole thing would just go away in the middle of an election campaign!
And speaking of things that haven't worked out quite as intended, thankfully the last of the clasicos is today. The whole thing has become a nightmare for Spanish football, and the concern is the team unity Spain showed in South Africa may now be as fractured as the Copa del Rey trophy--and not as easily repaired. Gerard Piqué has apparently spoken to Del Bosque pledging that everything will be OK (sort of, at least). Perhaps VDB should call up some non-Barca and non-Madrid players--Borja Valero and Bruno for a start--in order to make the dressing room less "us and them"? Just a thought.