Almería has won in Alicante with a brace from pichichi Charles, so the gap to second place would stretch to double-digits without a Villarreal away win in Córdoba. That has not happened since jornada 14 in Santander. Does anyone even remember the Racing match?
We do not have to worry about Joselu Moreno in tonight's match at Estadio Nuevo Arcángel, as he is both injured and contract-tied. Get well soon, Joselu, and hope to see you next season in yellow (in the Primera!). But former Villarreal man Kiko Olivas bosses the fourth-stingiest home defense in the Segunda, trailing runaway league leaders Elche by only one goal against. Yes, you read that correctly.
Keepers: J. Carlos, Mariño.
Defenders: Musacchio, Dorado, Mellberg, Mario, J. Oriol, J. Costa.
Midfielders: Bruno, Farinós, Trigueros, Aquino, Moi, Canteros.
Forwards: Uche, Jony, Perbet, Gerard.
The good: Olof Mellberg returns (finally!), likely relegating Chechu Dorado or Mateo Musacchio to the bench. My vote for the XI is Mellberg-Dorado, but I am not Marcelino García Toral. Also, Hernán Pérez is back in training but not fit enough to make the trip to Córdoba. A handy squad player available starting next week.
The bad: Marcos Senna is out with yet another hamstring injury, so Javier Farinós will pair with Bruno in the doble pivote. Not a serious drop-off there, but Héctor Canteros is no Senna as a reserve. Maybe he will prove me wrong.
The ugly: Rubén Cani is out indefinitely with a hamstring injury, so the team has a hole in creative midfield. Marcelino is likely to choose two of Aquino, Manu, and Moi to retain the team's shape, but he could slide Bruno to left back and play all three. Either way, Cani's shoes will require some filling on current form.
The match begins at 3 pm Eastern Time. Expect streams for a late Sunday encounter between playoff contenders. We need 3 points -- nothing less will do. Endavant Villarreal!