Diego Lopez came up in the Lugo youth ranks. - Lars Baron
Coming off a fine road win at Santander, the Yellow Submarine returns home to play host to....the mechanical turnip? Really?
Villarreal host Club Deportivo Lugo this Saturday at El Madrigal. Some of the teams in the Segunda have long histories in the top echelons of Spanish football, but Lugo is not one of them. The Galician club hails from a historical cathedral town, population 100,000, and, save for a solitary season in 1992-93, this is their first time in the Segunda. They won through last year on penalties after a raucous pair of 3-1 matches against favored Cadiz.
Oddly enough, Villarreal also won promotion in 1992, so the clubs did meet in the Segunda that year: after a 0-0 draw in Lugo, Villarreal won 3-1 at El Madrigal. Other than that, I don't believe they have played each other, unless in the Copa years ago.
Our visitors: Lugo currently sits in 16th place in the table, two points clear of the drop zone, and to be fair they would probably be quite happy to finish there. Survival is the name of the game for them this year, especially since they (stop me if you've heard this before) have a hard time scoring goals. Last week, by all accounts, they dominated play against Girona but the visitors put away their two chances, Lugo didn't. And on the road, the branquivermellos have really struggled, scoring only three goals in seven matches. But don't expect an easy game--Lugo lost to Elche 1-0 away, lost to Alcorcon 2-1 away, and had the one-goal defeat to Girona.
Veteran attacking midfielder Oscar Diaz is definitely their danger man, with five of those thirteen goals. This is his sixth Segunda club, and he has fit in well here. Another midfielder, Pablo Alvarez, might be familiar to some of you as he played for Sporting and Depor for many years.
Villarreal connection: Unfortunately, midfielder Hector Font will miss this game through injury. The Vila-real native, best remembered for winning that penalty in the Champions League semifinal in 2006, has been a fixture in the Lugo lineup this season. And Diego López started his career in the Lugo youth teams before moving on to Madrid and later Villarreal.
Our club: We don't expect to have Olof Mellberg back this week, so expect to see a similar team to last week, with Bruno partnering Musacchio in the back line. With Uche scoring two goals last week (he now has five, so has taken over the team lead from Senna) there's no reason to expect Cavenaghi or Pandiani to start.
I would expect Villarreal to control possession, though Lugo should not be as passive as Racing was last week. The key, as always it seems for us, is, can we translate our possession into goals? Last week we scored three and should have added a couple of more, really. I don't see Lugo scoring more than once, if at all, unless disaster strikes, so a couple of goals should be enough to see us through.
Oh, yes, the turnip thing: Wikipedia says 'O nabo mecanico' is a team nickname....yes, that appears to be Galician for the 'mechanical turnip', maybe a response to Alcorcon's "clockwork cheese'? I don't know, but I was able to find out that the area where Lugo is situated does grow a lot of turnips, and there is even a Turnip Top Festival nearby ( the green leaves are used in Galicia like they are in the American South). So I suppose that's it.
At any rate, let's get three points and keep the good vibes going! Endavant Villarreal!!