Things will get back into full swing around here as Villarreal face a few vital matches coming up. Sunday is a must-win against Xerez (for Villarreal's season and Valverde's future), followed by an away match against Lazio in which Villarreal must eke out a draw if they are still dreaming of staying in the Europa League.
Ernesto Valverde must be sweating bullets at this point. Although Roig gave him a vote of confidence, the voices at media superpower villarrealusa.org have been a mixed bag to say the least. ;) Not only that, however, as some big name coaches have begun to be linked to the position: Luis Aragonés, Néstor Pékerman, and apparently up to 20 others. I think we can all agree that anything less than three points on Sunday, and Ernesto Valverde will have to start deciding whether or not to put Villarreal CF under the list of former employers on his resumé.
News regarding the injury front and the FIFA virus is not helping Señor Valverde. Stalwart Joan Capdevila picked up a knock in Wednesday's match against Bosnia, and has not yet been able to practice with the team. He is a serious doubt for Sunday. Losing Capdevila for a match is like having the Pope miss Mass on Sunday - it never happens, and Valverde has to be wondering what he has done to deserve this. Ariel Ibagaza is still on the shelf recovering from his hamstring injury (when you are that old, things take time), so Valverde is also without the player who has arguably been the most creative force on the team this year.
The problem with having quality players, especially when they were born on the other side of the world, is that inevitably they will be called up for their national sides, and that having to travel so far to their home countries, they will not be back in time for every match. Brazil's Nilmar and Uruguay's Sebastian Eguren are late returning, and may not be available for Sunday either.
I'll be back tomorrow with a full match preview. Think we might be able to pull this one out?