Preview: Villarreal Attempts to Salvage Dignity Against Sevilla

Villarreal's defense doesn't enjoy going against forwards with size and strength.

Villarreal and Sevilla have been on the same page of late, at least when it comes to fairness in La Liga and television rights.  In fact, Presidents Roig and Del Nido have been leading the charge to reign La Liga back into a competition rather than an extended trophy ceremony for either Real Madrid or Barcelona.  But for 90 minutes, the teams must be adversaries on the pitch.  

The clubs have started the season on remarkably clashing notes, despite their apparent harmony in the board room.  We all know of Villarreal's embarrassment.  And seriously, talk about coming at the worst time!  With two weeks of talks about the unfairness of La Liga, you know what two scorelines have been mentioned ad nauseum?  That's right.  Real Zaragoza 0-6 Madrid, and Barcelona 5-0 Villarreal.  It isn't exactly pleasant to be the poster boys of the whipping boys, is it?

As mentioned, Sevilla started the season in flying form with a 2-1 victory in the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuain over somewhat local rivals Málaga.  Beast-man Alvaro Negredo scored two in the first 26 minutes before former Villarreal starlet Santi Cazorla pulled on back in the 81st minute in his sun-riddled debut for the Sheik.  

Looking back at recent matches between the clubs, there is the interesting fact, noted by our friends at spanishfootball.info, that none of the last 9 league meetings between the clubs have ended in a draw (although  the last time the two played at El Madrigal, which was the first leg of last season's Copa del Rey quarterfinal tie, the clubs tied 3-3).  Last season, the teams played four times.  Villarreal took the first La Liga match at El Madrigal by a 1-0 scoreline (arguably undeserved on that day, but we were happy with the points!).  After that was the defensive debacle in the Copa del Rey, in which Villarreal gave up 3 goals to Sevilla in back-to-back matches to lose 3-6 on aggregate.  Thought we were being too generous in those matches?  Well, we didn't change our ways the last time we played Sevilla on the year, falling 3-2 in Seville in April.  In the preceding years, the scorelines were

2009-2010: Sevilla 2-3 Villarreal; Villarreal 3-0 Sevilla.
2009-2010: Sevilla 1-0 Villarreal; Villarreal 0-2 Sevilla.
2009-2010: Villarreal 3-2 Sevilla; Sevilla 2-0 Villarreal.

By my count, that is an overall record of 3 wins, 6 losses, and 1 draw over the last four years.  I think it is safe to say that playing Sevilla is generally not a thing Villarreal likes to do!

Last week, Sevilla lined up with Javi Varas (keeper); Julien Escudé, Emir Spahic, Fernando Navarro, and Martín Cáceres (defenders); Piotr Trochowski, Gary Medel, Jesús Navas, and Diego Perotti (midfielders); Álvaro Negredo and Manu (forwards).  Kanoute was unavailable, but it would not be unreasonable to expect him alongside Negredo, if the coaches feel they can be effective together.  Hey - at least Villarreal-killer Luis Fabiano has moved on, eh?

Villarreal's call for the match:

Keepers: Diego López and César.
Defenders: Gonzalo Rodriguez, Mario Gaspar, Mateo Musacchio, Carlos Marchena, Jose Manuel Catalá and Joan Oriol.
Midfielders: Marcos Senna, Borja Valero, Ruben Cani, Jonathan De Guzmán, Bruno Soriano, Javier Camuñas and Wakaso Mubarak.
Forwards: Giuseppe Rossi, Nilmar and Marco Ruben.

Unfortunately, Villarreal are exceedingly thin in the back line for a match against Sevilla's big guns - including the likes of Frederic Kanoute and Alvaro Negredo, strikers that tend to tear Villarreal's defense to pieces.  But Cristián Zapata was held up because of visa issues when Columbia traveled to play in the United States, and Ángel is only just returning to the practice fields.  Without the two of them, the right side of our defense consists of Mario, and theoretically Marchena if necessary.  Central defense is thin too, though, with only Musacchio, Gonzalo, and Marchena available.

My lineup:

Diego López
Mario - Musacchio - Gonzalo - Oriol
Cani - De Guzmán - Bruno - Borja
Rossi - Ruben

with perhaps a diamond formation in midfield.  I at first thought better of putting De Guzmán in there alongside Bruno, but the reality is that this game is tremendously important for the club, and Garrido sees this.  Villarreal need De Guzmán to step up, and this is the best opportunity to do that.

No predictions from me, as I predicted a 2-2 draw between Villarreal and Barcelona in Jornada 2.  It should be a good match, but under the circumstances it is vital for Villarreal.  Villarreal picked up almost nothing points-wise from playing the better teams in La Liga last term, and are desperate to change that this year if they hope to challenge for 3rd place in the league.  A match at home against Sevilla is a must-win.

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