Uphill Battle: Lopez trying to keep Cristiano Ronaldo from scoring.
We are fast running of adjectives and expressions to describe the dire situation of the Yellow Submarine. We all thought the Getafe game was the rock-bottom until Levante beat us in the injury time. Sr.Roig, Llaneza & Co had seen enough with Molina and sacked him. In comes the well traveled Miguel Ángel Lotina who has coached various clubs in Spain to varying degrees of success. He took Celta Vigo to the Champions League and won a Copa del Rey with Espanyol. But his last two stints at Valladolid & Deportivo La Coruña ended in tears and relegation.
Thanks to Espanyol's win over Racing yesterday, Villarreal is still 3 points off of relegation but that could change tomorrow when Cristiano Ronaldo & Co visit El Madrigal after dropping unexpectedly dropping points at home to a "Santi Cazorla Special" in added time. Lionel Messi added 3 more goals to his total and Barcelona is only 5 points behind Madrid now (virtually only of course). All this means Real Madrid will be up for this game more than ever. That means we have to be at our best to avoid being drubbed by 5 or 6 goals.
1. Borja Valero misses the game as he didnt fully recover from the knock he took in the Getafe game
2. Cani is back in the squad after recovering from his injury in the Getafe game.
3. Wakaso & Jonathan De Guzman are also back in the first squad picked by MA Lotina
1. Arbeloa returns to the side after missing the weekend's game vs Málaga.
2. Di Maria is still out injured.
There is no single spot on the pitch where we have a favourable match-up. So there isnt much to write home about here.
Defending CR7, Kaka, Mesut Özil and Benzema will be a nightmare Ángel, Oriol, Gonzalo & Musacchio. The outside midfielders will need to do a lot of defensive work to help out the fullbacks. Cani, De Guzman/Camuñas whoever plays in those positions will have their task cut-out.
Senna & Bruno vs Xabi & Lass/Khedira is probably the least unfavorable match-up we have on the pitch. That said, Senna might tire by 60 min mark.
Nilmar/Martinuccio + Ruben (assuming Lotina plays two up-front) can trouble Pepe & Ramos if they get enough support. But since the outside midfielders will be mostly defending CR7 & Co, it is unlikely that they get much support.
Will there be any "Lotina effect"? (in the positive sense)
I can envision some improvements tactically but I dont think they will be sufficient to get a result. One thing Lotina migh try is to make it harder for Real Madrid to break swiftly. While they are capable of construction play from behind slowly, they certainly dont relish it.
So the question is:
Can Lotina make or Does Villarreal have the personnel to defend like swarming bees and try make it as hard as possible for Real Madrid to transition the possession from defense to attack?
As far as personnel is concerned, the answer is a "may be". Hernán Pérez, De Guzman & Wakaso in the midfield with Bruno as the mop-up man could work but none of the three has played much football of late, let alone starting in games.
If I were Lotina, I'd go with this line-up and see what happens.
Lopez;Oriol-Gonzalo-Musacchio-Ángel;Bruno;Wakaso-De Guzman-Senna/Castellani-Hernán;Marco Ruben
Sort of a 4-1-4-1/4-5-1 with the sole intent of slowing down counterattacks. If things are optimistic late in the 2nd half (i.e down by only a goal) bring on Nilmar to see if we can nick something like santi did on Sunday.
That fantasy line-up aside here are the more likely line-ups
Lopez;Oriol-Gonzalo-Musacchio-Ángel; Bruno-Senna; Cani-DeGuzman-Hernán;Marco Ruben
Casillas;Marcelo-Ramos-Pepe-Arbeloa; Xabi Alonso-Khedira; Cristiano Ronaldo-Kaka-Özil;Benzema
Getting a result in this game is very difficult. But it is very important that the team takes some positives to the next few games vs Rayo, Espanyol, Betis and Málaga which are much more winnable.
Endavant Villarreal! Vamos Submarino