Villarreal begins its assault on the Trofeo Carranza tomorrow at 10pm local time against Sevilla. Although the tournament amounts to little more than a friendly, there is silverware involved, and make no mistake, Villarreal wants to take it home. The initial opponent will not make things easy however, having played in top form recently against the likes of Inter and Arsenal.
Villarreal brought a nearly-complete squad to the tournament, plus Joan Tomas and Cristobal. Unfortunately, a couple of players probably will be left out for various reasons. The available players include:
- Keepers: Diego Lopez, Sebastian Viera
- Defense: Javi Venta, Angel, Gonzalo, Fuentes, Godin, Bruno, Capdevila
- Midfield: Cazorla, Cani, Mati, Pires, Ibagaza, Cristobal, Senna, Eguren.
- Forwards: Llorente, Franco, Altidore, Joan Tomas.
Cygan probably will not play, because of precautions over his knee, and Fuentes sat out of practice today. Edmilson is suffering from tonsilites, and Pires would rather not play, remembering the last time he suited up for the Carranza. Nihat is of course still injured, and Rossi is at the Olympics. And yes, Altidore has rejoined the squad.
The starting squad should be a good indication of where Pellegrini thinks the players rank, as he has vocalized his desire to win the tournament. My guess is:
With Altidore back, Pellegrini could theoretically drop back into a 4-4-2, with Altidore available as a sub. But with the amount of time they have put in on the 4-2-3-1, I would be surprised to see him switch it up on such short notice.
The match is exciting, as it pits two darkhorse title contenders against each other just as both are reaching regular-season form. Over the last five matches between the two clubs, the equality of the sides has shown itself, each having two wins, two draws, and a loss. Both teams will feel the need to put everything on the line on Friday, as the second match will inevitably be somewhat easier - either Bilbao or Cadiz.
Villarreal has everything necessary to win, and should expect to do so. At this point, we are no longer looking up to Sevilla. I expect Villarreal to pull things together in what will be a very exciting matchup. Offense will be free-flowing, and it will come down to whoever can hold the other club back. Sevilla 2-3 Villarreal. ENDAVANT VILLARREAL!