Preview: Sabadell-Villarreal B

Sabadell's favorite son. Well, maybe not. Hi there, Biscuits. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)



On Saturday Villarreal's filial takes a three-hour drive along the AP-7 and ending in Sabadell for a match against the arlequinats of CE Sabadell, about 10 miles from Barcelona. Both the town and the football club have more history than you might expect; the town (population 200,000) was a center of textile production, principally woolens, during the 19th century and was nicknamed the "Catalan Manchester".

One of the banks which grew up financing these activities, Banco de Sabadell, is today a largish Spanish bank and has branches in Florida, where no doubt they've escaped the depressed Spanish real-estate market by lending money in another depressed real-estate market. That's your trivia for today.

What of the football club, I hear you ask. The football club was founded in the early 20th century, and interestingly enough, it's claimed the first game under floodlights in Spain was held at their old Creu Alta stadium, as long ago as 1912! The current stadium, imaginatively named Nova Creu Alta, was built in the 1960's but extensively renovated for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. It's very blue-and-white, appropriate given those are the team colors!

Sabadell has yo-yoed up and down the divisions quite a lot. They've had two recent-ish spells in the Primera, 1965-1972 and two years in the late 1980's. The latter wasn't notable, the first spell was--they even qualified for the old Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (even I barely remember that one!) with a fourth-place finish in 1968-69, but went out in the first round to Club Brugge and haven't returned to Europe since.

Sabadell had financial problems in the early 1990s and spent a year in the Tercera, but most of their recent past has been in the Segunda B. Last year, though, they won their group and made it to the Segunda for the first time since 1993 after defeating Eibar on the away-goals rule.

They got off to a hot start, too, winning 6 of their first 9 games, including a wild 4-3 win against Villarreal B and an away win against Barcelona B. But since then, the wheels have come off; Sabadell have but one win in their last 15 games, a 2-0 defeat of Xerez in late January. Teams in the top half of the table have shellacked them, and their worst defeat was to bottom club Nastic, who beat the Saballuts 5-0. Oooof.

They've fallen to 14th in the table, still 6 points ahead of us and 9 above the drop zone, but this is a big game for them, as is a visit to Cartagena the week following. Effectively, both are huge games for Sabadell if they are to stay up this season, given their recent lack of form.

The first match between these teams was high-scoring, and there is no reason this one shouldn't be either, because Sabadell has the worst defense in the Segunda (39 goals allowed) and Villarreal the third worst (36), and that's even with the heroics of Diego Mariño in goal.

Sabadell's leading scorer is Manuel Lanzarote, who they picked up from Eibar after knocking them out of the playoffs. He has seven goals so far; Frenchman Thierry Taulemesse has added four (including two against us). Sabadell appear to be at full strength for this encounter. The same can't be said of Villarreal B, though.

Villarreal B squad:

Keepers: Mariño, Jorge.

Defenders: Pere, Lejeune, Kiko, Truyols , Toño.

Midfieiders: Barrientos, Edu Ramos, Toribio, Moi Gómez, Pedro Vázquez, Trigueros , Iriome.

Forwards: Juanto, Lucas Porcar, Joselu, Mauricio.

Several noteworthy points here: Llorente and Jaume Costa are both suspended; Pablo Iñiguez and Gerard Bordas are both injured. With Joan Oriol's first yellow card being overturned, Toño sees his chance at first-team glory go by the boards, and he returns to B. So too does Joselu; with Nilmar apparently staying put for now, and Ruben recovered form his shoulder injury, Molina would rather see Joselu play with the B team to keep sharp than have him sit on the bench at the top level. And, Pere Martînez returns after injury--good news, as he has played well this season since coming up from C.

You may be wondering who Mauricio is; I certainly was! He's Mauricio Alves, whom we signed from Fluminense awhile back for €700,000, apparently. He played for the C team in 2009-10, then was promoted to B but loaned back to Brazil (to Avai) where he apparently seldom played.

The B team has been playing well of late, with the defense tightening up (only one goal allowed in four matches, and that was when down to ten men). Our offense has sputtered of late, though, with only two goals in that period. Hopefully Joselu's return will change that.

Kickoff is at noon EST (6 pm Spain); unfortunately with six other Segunda matches at the same time, plus Racing-Atletico Madrid, I would say chances of a stream are pretty small. Nonetheless, we'll hope. Endavant Mini-Submarino!

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