Let's start straight off with the Villarreal squad traveling to Madrid for this one:
- Keepers: Juan Carlos, Diego Mariño.
- Defenders: Mario, Joan Oriol, Jaume Costa, Mellberg y Pablo Íñiguez.
- Midfielders: Marcos Senna, Bruno, Tito Canteros, Manu Trigueros, Cani, Aquino y Moi.
- Strikers: Uche, Perbet, Gerard Moreno y Jonathan Pereira.
With Mateo Musacchio out, and Chechu Dorado still injured, it surely looks like young Pablo Iñiguez is going to be the one partnering Mellberg in the middle of our defense. I hope there's a place for Jaume Costa in the starting lineup.
We've got to go for attack so I would put Cani, Trigueros, Bruno and Aquino out there, with Senna coming on as a sub later. Perbet has to start, Uche has to sit for me, and I prefer Gerard with Jony coming on around minute 60 or so.
Our opponents: AD Alcorcón was only founded in 1971, and joined the Segunda for the first time in 2010. Of course, they will always be remembered for hastening Manuel Pellegrini's departure from Madrid when they defeated the merengues 4-1 on aggregate in the 2009-10 Copa del Rey. They won their Segunda B group that year, too, and achieved promotion to the Segunda.
They may not be the best-supported team in the Segunda (their stadium seats less than 7,000) and they may not have the biggest budget, but they have been quite comfortable, thank you very much. With a ninth place finish their first season in the second tier, and a fourth place finish last year, going out in the playoff finals to Real Valladolid, this little club has consistently punched above its weight.
In 2010-11 it was Quini who carried them, with 22 goals; this year it's been Oriol Riera. The ex-Celta man has netted 18 times. On paper, Alcorcon have not been as impressive as some of the other promotion contenders, inasmuch as their goal difference is only +7. But, though they are 9th in scoring, they are behind only Elche and Villarreal when it comes to defense--though they've given up ten more goals than the Submarine.
Their home record is what has them where they are--only Girona and Elche have more home wins. Of course, Villarreal's away struggles are what has them pinned back in the table, with only five away wins all season. A sixth here would be timely indeed.
The game starts at 6AM Eastern, 3AM here on the West Coast, so put the coffee on before you go to bed. And btw, Alcorcon's colors are yellow (and blue), so we will be wearing our second strip tomorrow. Doesn't happen often.