Numancia-Villarreal B Preview

Villarreal visit Numancia this Saturday in another important match as the Mini Submarine tries to stay above the Segunda relegation zone. Alcoyano, currently 7 points back, play colista Nastic in Tarrgona, so have to figure they have some chance to pick up points.

As for Numancia, they have been a solidly mid-table team much of the season; they're currently tenth, six points off the playoffs with eight games to go. So if they are to make a playoff push (which to be fair doesn't seem terribly likely) now is the time for the Numantinos to make their move.

Where we're playing: If you look for Numancia on a map of Spain, good luck! The team's full name is Club Deportivo Numancia de Soria; Numancia (Numantia) is the name of a Celtic settlement near the present day town of Soria. The modern town is even smaller than Vila-real, about 40,000 people, but has a long history. It was known in medieval times as a center of Spanish Jewry, prior to 1492 of course, and its location on the Rio Douro meant that it was often fought over through the centuries.

In modern times, the area around Soria (Ribera del Duero) is well-known for outstanding red wines; Sir Alex Ferguson counts one of them as his personal favorite!

The Numancia ground is the Nuevo Estadio Los Pajaritos ("little bird"); it's one of the smaller in the Segunda, holding 10,000 people, and according to Wikipedia is "notoriously cold in winter". It's a compact ground with seats in the team's blue and red colors, opened in 1999. Interestingly, it looks older because of the use of wood in much of the construction, which withstands the Castile and Leon extremes of hot and cold much better than many other materials.

The Rojillos like their little bird; Soria may be a pretty quiet, stuck-in-the-mud kind of place, but their football team has managed to win promotion to La Liga three times at this ground, though they were relegated straight back twice and only stayed two years in the Primera the other time.

Their current team: Numancia don't have a huge budget, and cut their cloth accordingly. They have a fairly international squad, and boast some players with some Primera experience. Their defense isn't great, their attack is pretty decent. Venezuelan Julio Alvarez, who had experience with Racing, Almeria and Mallorca in the Primera, is a danger man in midfield; Juanjo, another ex-Racing man, and Diaz de Cerio, ex Real Sociedad, are the leading goalscorers with seven and six respectively.

Villarreal B: Coach Velasquez can't be too disappointed at the effort against Valladolid; if Gerard Bordas is able to come back this week he might start up front. Joselu needs to get untracked; if Porcar or Bordas isn't up there with him, we tend to struggle to create a lot of danger. Still, with players like Trigueros in midfield, and a much more solid back line in front of excellent keeper Mariño, our B team is a match for all but the top teams in the Segunda--all they lack is experience.

My prediction: Looking at Numancia's remaining schedule, which features matches against teams ranked first, fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth, I'm not sure this team has a lot to play for. Their form has just been too spotty to imagine any sort of big push will be happening. I'm going to go with Numancia 0 Villarreal B 1.

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