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Match Preview: Villarreal - Athletic Bilbao

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Well. Villarreal, initially wanting to win this tournament, now face Athletic in the battle for third place - or last, depending on your perspective. While in the long run, the result is unimportant, decimation at the hands of Sevilla yesterday is humbling. Here, they have the opportunity to come out and turn things around, or they may suffer from a post-fight hangover.

Available players: (in parentheses next to each players name is the number of minutes played yesterday)

  • Keeper: Diego Lopez (26)
  • Defense: Javi Venta (0), Ángel (90), Gonzalo (90), Fuentes (~2), Bruno (45), Capdevila (90)
  • Midfield: Cazorla (32), Cani (76), Mati (14), Pires (0), Ibagaza (64), Cristobal (0), Senna (82), Josico (8)
  • Forwards: Llorente (58), Franco (83), Altidore (0), Joan Tomas (7).

Both teams should be pretty tired. Villarreal, presumably, will be especially so, after not being able to play out the planned substitutions, thanks to a couple of red cards. We do know Viera, Eguren, and Godín will all be out of action today. Add that to Cygan's doubtful status, Pires' desire to not play, Edmilson's sickness, the absences of Nihat and Rossi, and we have a slim squad coming after a very hard fought 90 minutes yesterday.

Considering minutes and age, my expected lineup is:

—————Diego Lopez—————

—Javi Venta—Gonzalo—Fuentes—Capdevila—

———Josico———Bruno———

–Cazorla——–Ibagaza——–Mati—

------Altidore------

My first thought is that Bruno would take Capdevila's spot, but unless Edmilson is ready to step into the defensive midfield, I cannot see it happening, since Senna played 82 minutes yesterday. And I do think Altidore will get the start. It is possible Llorente might be back in there, since Altidore just rejoined the squad; however, Altidore should definitely see significant playing time today.

Prediction? That didn't do me too well last time! Villarreal should win. I am not certain it will happen, though. If this were not a tournament-style match, I would expect it to end 1-1. But since someone has to win, I will go with Villarreal squaking it out, 2-1.