Villarreal looks to move closer to a second-place finish in La Liga and a guaranteed CL group-stage qualification with a win over Getafe Sunday afternoon in El Madrigal. The match pits a Getafe team currently down on its luck after riding a brilliant surge through the winter in La Liga and the UEFA Cup, only to have lost to Bayern in the waning minutes of the second leg of the quarterfinal tie, lost badly to Valencia in the Copa del Rey final, and to have gone 0-4-4 in their last 8 Liga matches (admittedly one of those draws being an admirable on against Barca in Camp Nou). Villarreal, in contrast, come off two consecutive wins, and have won six of their last eight.
It is nice to see respect for what Villarreal has accomplished this year coming from the opposing team. Noting Villarreal's 1-3 defeat of Getafe earlier in the season, Michael Laudrup said, "You must go there with the greatest respect. This match is like going to meet Madrid in the Bernabéu or Barcelona at Camp Nou. Villarreal deserve everything they've done this season." Villarreal a top three power? You betcha.
Villarreal come into the match very healthy, and can count on almost their entire squad. Josico and Fuentes are out as expected, but neither of those injuries would have made a difference in all likelihood anyway. Unfortunately, Eguren is suspended after his lightning-fast pickup of 5 yellow cards. That will leave the holding midfield position a little shallow, but Cani will probably step in as a sub for Senna or Bruno if necessary.
Probable lineup for Villarreal: Diego Lopez; Javi Venta (Angel is a possibility, as he came in at half last week), Gonzalo, Godin, Capdevila; Pires, Senna, Bruno, Cazorla; Nihat, Rossi (would not be surprised to see Guille get the start over Rossi, with Rossi coming on as an early powersub at half).
Getafe are missing striker Ikechukwu Uche, which can only help the Yellow Submarine. And although de la Red will be in attendance, he has been accused pretty harshly of bailing out on the season after Madrid have confirmed their plans to reacquire him over the summer.
I expect Pires to have a huge match - it is about that time for him. Hopefully Nihat will get the early goal in honor of his new fatherhood. Getafe is in a rough spot, but are still concerned about staying up. PREDICTION: Villarreal 3-1 Getafe. (Looking for some goals this week!)
The match will be on GolTV in the States, but not live - it will be on at 5et, which creates a terrible dilemma - ignore football for the day, including the opportunity to cheer against Barca and Madrid, or follow Villarreal's score online and watch the match later while knowing the outcome. Tough! I plan on ignoring the Spanish league during the day until Villarreal's match comes on here at 5, but perhaps watching the Boca-River match in the afternoon ;).