A few things going on in the lead-up to Villarreal's intimidating matchup in Rome on Thursday (and playing Red Bull New York would be intimidating these days for Villarreal).
For those that were wondering, Ernesto Valverde is still the coach. Apparently he will be for at least one more La Liga match. Cazorla gave him a vote of confidence, as others have recently, but you have to wonder how many of those are sincere.
Villarreal are still without Ibagaza heading into the match against Lazio. Valverde's nineteen include: Diego Lopez, Oliva, Javi Venta, Gonzalo, Marcano, Godin, Capdevila, Angel, Bruno, Senna, Pires, Cazorla, Eguren, Fuster, Cani, Jonathan Pereira, Llorente, Nilmar and Rossi.
Pires denied vehemently that he called Sunday's referee a "son of a whore," but it wasn't enough. He got a one match suspension, which means he will be out of Valverde's last chance on Sunday against Malaga. I figure he was let off pretty lightly - perhaps the sanctioning committee agreed with Pires' sentiments about the refereeing in the match?
And lastly, some good news for Villarreal's beleaguered strikeforce: Lazio will be without French central defender Modibo Diakite for the match, who has foot problems.