I really feel badly for Velasquez's men, who yet again get to play on the same day as our A team. This one is away to Xerez, and truth to tell, it's actually quite an important game for the Mini Submarine. They came into this weekend eight points clear of the relegation zone, but Girona's 5-1 win over Alcoyano has cut our cushion to five points, though there are three other teams between Girona and Villarreal B.
Our opponents: The Azulinos are from the town of Jerez in Andalusia (think sherry, yes indeed). The current club was founded in 1947, and frankly the last few years have been as good as they've had. Throughout the last decade they were a competent Segunda club, but in 2008-09 they put it all together and were promoted to the Primera as Segunda champions. Unfortunately, they spent only the 2009-10 season in the Primera before being relegated (though you may remember they defeated a Valverde-coached Villarreal team, 2-1 at the Estadio Municipal de Chapin).
This year, the Mini Submarine defeated Xerez 3-1 at the Mini Estadi in October, with two goals from Porcar and one from Gerard. Xerez is just ahead of us in the table (45 points to 43) and has been playing decently of late (they beat Las Palmas, after all), but will miss 35 year-old captain "Capi" who is out with injury, while midfielder Tato (6 goals on the season) is suspended.
With him out, the Xerez attack will rely on ex-Villarreal man Jose Mari (33 years old, 7 goals) and Iñigo Velez. The ex-Real Murcia and Athletic Club man has also scored seven this season. Xerez is a team of veterans (many of them Segunda veterans), including Toni Doblas (ex-Zaragoza) in goal. Xerez has only four players younger than 24 in their entire squad; Villarreal B has only one player--Gerard Bordas--older than 24!!
Villarreal B: Porcar is suspended, and Jaume Costa is with the first team, but Llorente, Mariño and Gerard Bordas all return. Here's the team call:
Keepers: Mariño, Jorge.
Defenders: Truyols, Kiko, Lejeune, Pablo Íñiguez , Toño.
Midfielders: Toribio, Edu Ramos, Moi Gómez, Manu Trigueros, Pedro Vázquez, Iriome, Llorente , Pablo González.
Strikers: Juanto, Joselu, Gerard Bordas.
I expect to see Bordas and Joselu up front, I suppose, with Toribio, Trigueros, Moi and Llorente in the middle and probably Truyols, Kiko, Lejeune and Toño in front of Mariño.
Prediction: Normally I'd be picking us to get a result with these guys, but quite apart from Porcar's suspension, I am concerned about the B team's ability to keep focused on this match (for obvious reasons--if Villarreal loses to Atleti and is relegated, the B team is automatically relegated as well). So I will go for Xerez 2-1 Villarreal B. I would be quite happy to be proven wrong about this one. of course. If there are any streams available, it's probably a nice prelude to