Villarreal vs. Almería: For All The Marbles

Scene: El Madrigal. Rocking. - Susana G.

One match to decide the second automatic promotion spot. Villarreal plays at home in front of a packed house and has draw odds. Almería has won 5 straight. A night of emotions and nerves ahead at El Madrigal.

90 minutes to mission accomplished. #Tornarem

All to play for this evening against Almería at El Madrigal. The third sellout in club history, thanks to the traveling 2,500 away supporters. And 9,000 tickets sold in just hours on Monday afternoon.

One team goes up; the other enters the playoffs on a sour note (albeit as the top seed).

Three keys to today's match:

1. Control Charles Dias de Oliveira. Almería's 29-year-old Brazilian striker will win the pichichi of the Segunda División - he sits on 27 goals. His aerial presence may be overstated, as he has only two headed goals on the season (and three from the penalty spot).

This year appears an anomaly, as he tallied fewer times over two seasons with Córdoba. But scoring goals is all about confidence, and the Brazilian has found a home this season. Keep him off the scoresheet - a responsibility that will fall largely to center backs Olof Mellberg and Mateo Musacchio - and Villarreal is likely to obtain the result it needs.

2. Strike balance in the starting XI. Injuries to Dorado, Farinós, and Hernán. Absences of Aquino, Íñiguez, Mariño, and Moi. Suspension to Marcelino García Toral. Water under the bridge.

Juan Carlos in net. Mario, Mellberg, Musacchio, and Costa in defense. Canteros and Bruno in the doble pivote. Cani on the wing. Perbet up front. Jony somewhere.

The one unknown: Joan Oriol on the wing? Manu Trigueros on the wing, or maybe even in the doble pivote? Or youngster Gerard Moreno up front? Rubén Uria must get it right.

3. Keep emotions in check. A tearful relegation. A painful squad dismantling. A new coach and his tragic passing. A rocky start to the season. Six winter recruits. Yet another managerial change. A home defeat that allowed our neighbors to celebrate promotion.

On the flip side, a new appreciation for what we have. New blood in the ‘A' team. A stronger, more united fan base. Love for the club from all corners of the world. And one game, at home, needing a draw to go right back up.

Lots of emotions will be in the air. Tackles will be flying, and everyone in the stadium will be giving their all. So no red cards, no conceding silly free kicks, and no hanging heads after a dodgy decision.

The match begins at 1 pm Eastern Time - there should be no shortage of streams. ¡Endavant, a triomfar, a guanyar Villarreal!

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