Villarreal travel to sherry country for another (sigh) must-win game

Villarreal at a recent training session - Robin Harris

Villarreal travel to Xerez's Chapin ground to play a team that is struggling in the Segunda.

Villarreal are probably still shaking their heads from the Girona result, but there's one more match to go in what has been a horrible-to-disappointing 2012. Our opponents, Xerez, finished 14th in the Segunda last season, and don't look like matching that this time--they are currently 17th in the table with 20 points from 18 matches, and they have actually scored fewer goals at home than on the road. Their last win? Way back on November 4, when they defeated Hercules in Alicante 5-1; their last home win was against Lugo the weekend before.

Villarreal connections: oh, all sorts of them. Those of you with long memories will remember the infamous October 2009 game at this ground, which ended in a fight (and if you don't, here is the report from our archive). Xerez is also the club which famously took Jozy Altidore on loan from us, and never played him.

The current Xerez squad has familiar faces--from the veteran striker who played in yellow for several years and is still warmly remembered (José Mari), to a striker who looked great for a few months, then disappeared (Lucas Porcar, last year's Iago Falqué for the B team), to....Marquitos, a product of our youth system who wasn't able to resurrect his career for our B team last year but is trying again with Xerez. He played for our first team in 2006-07 and scored a goal against Real Madrid, unfortunately that's been the highlight of his career so far. Can you believe he's still only 25 years old? Wow.

Coach Esteban Vigo is trying to resurrect his career a bit, too. He took Xerez, and later Hércules, from the Segunda to the Primera, before the Valencian Community side sacked him in March 2011. He later managed Almeria late last season but couldn't get them to a playoff berth, and joined Xerez in the summer.

Our squad: The major conern, apart from the suspended Mellberg and Cani, is, of all things, our goalkeeping situation. Juan Carlos picked up an in jury in training last week, and now Diego Mariño has done the same. He did travel with the team to Jerez, so the hope is he will be able to play. if not, Jorge Palatsi will make his first start for the A team.

Expect Bruno to drop back to the back line with Mellberg out, and Senna and Trigueros to make up the doble pivote, with Hernán Pérez and Moi Gomez also in midfield and Uche and Cavenaghi up front. That doesn't leave much on the bench apart from Pandiani and perhaps Jaume Costa; Bordas did not make the trip, nor did Canteros.

Kickoff is at 2 PM ET and there should be plenty of streams, since we are the only game in town. Hey, if the Mayan long chart calendar or whatever it is doesn't cycle over, and the world really does end on Friday, with a win, we'll finish in fourth place! Endavant Villarreal!!!

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