Preview: Villarreal-Everton

Catalá is expected to return to action on our English tour. (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

     Tomorrow Villarreal travel to Goodison Park to play Everton in a pre-season friendly.  The Yellow Submarine is coming off an impressive performance in a home match against Lazio, while Everton's last match was a disappointing loss against Werder Bremen.

   Villarreal have the following traveling party, for this match and the game against Wigan on Sunday:

Goalkeepers: Diego López and César.
Defenders: Mario, Mano, Zapata, Musacchio, Gonzalo, Catalá, Dervite, Joan Oriol and Marchena.
Midfielders: Wakaso, Marcos Senna, Marcos Gullón, Bruno, Borja Valero, Cani, Camuñas and Hernán Pérez.
Forwards: Gerard Bordas, Marco Ruben, Nilmar and Rossi.

     No surprises there, I suppose, except for Jordi Pablo, who was originally included in the travelling party but now has been dropped--not sure what the story is there.  It really doesn't make sense to worry about who wins or loses this tie, because I expect both teams to do a bit of juggling the lineup as the game goes to see what happens.  Even against Lazio with a two-goal lead Garrido was quite willing to make changes, and I expect that will happen here as well, especially with another game coming up on Sunday.

    Everton's big problem, as explained yesterday, is that the team really needs investment to compete at the top of the EPL and failing that, it's a balancing act to keep your best players while finding money to buy others.  Don't forget, Wayne Rooney came through the Everton academy and had to be eventually sold to pay the bills.

    Villarreal played very well against Lazio and I suspect Garrido will start essentially the same lineup, though he might want to have Rossi and Nilmar play together for the first half (I am not sure they have this season).  It sounds like Catala has recovered from his injury but I only expect him to come in late in the match.

   Everton's problem seems to be scoring goals, and without Arteta's free-kick skills and passing from midfield, their best chances may well come from corners and/or the opportunistic Tim Cahill, who is a tremendous header of the ball--and as Villarreal fans know our defense has been shaky when attacked in the air.

   It is only a friendly, but long-time Everton fans (and there are hardly any other kind!) may well feel they have a score to settle with Villarreal, going back to a controversial loss at El Madrigal in 2005 that knocked Everton out of the Champions League.  Only Gonzalo and Senna remain from the Villarreal squad that featured that day, while current Everton players Tony Hibbert, Phil Neville, and Cahill all started that day, along with the currently-injured Arteta.

   Let's hope for a fun, exciting game.  With two teams that are easy to like, why not?  Endavant Villarreal!

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