Villarreal take on surprising Tenerife on Sunday in an attempt to pull out a second La Liga victory. To do so, they will have to overcome an unfortunate suspension, disastrous injuries and a paralyzing lack of confidence from the forwards. Sounds easy enough.
The slow start for Villarreal isn't news around here, but Tenerife's strong start has taken many people by surprise. The Canarians sit in 13th place with nine points after pulling off victories against Osasuna, Athletic Bilbao, and Xerez (all teams that we couldn't beat). The main criticisms have been a lack of goalscoring and poor play away from the islands. Their three victories to this point have come at the Heliodoro Rodríguez López, and to this point, they have scored a total of five goals in eight matches, including only one on the road.
Despite the fact that their victories came at their home grounds and their away form has been a bit on the shabby side, Villarreal cannot even begin to hope for easy victories at this point - every team we go up against is the equivalent of Everest these days. As for goalscoring, we only have seven on the year. And, although there is no need to repeat the stomach-churning fact, we are sitting in the relegation zone. Our quandry is not made any easier this week. Santi Cazorla is out indefinitely, and Marcos Senna came up lame during the midweek draw against lowly Puertollano. Ariel Ibagaza did not return from injury just yet as hoped, and thus our midfield is paper thin. Add to this that the one person on the front line that arguably was starting to show a little confidence, Nilmar, is suspended two matches following a thoughtless elbow midweek. The good news is that Diego Godin should be ready to go despite battling arthritis in his foot.
The squad for the match:
Keepers: Diego López and Oliva.
Defenders: Javi Venta, Ángel, Gonzalo, Godín, Marcano and Capdevila.
Midfielders: Eguren, Bruno, Matilla, Pires, Cani, Fuster and Escudero.
Forwards: Jonathan Pereira, Rossi and Llorente.
Valverde would probably like Pires' leadership considering the loss of Senna and Cazorla, but I would think that after going a full ninety against hardscrabble Puertollano, Pires won't get the start. Nilmar too would be on Valverde's wish list. My best guess (changes from the Malaga match in red):
Venta - Godín - Gonzalo - Capdevila
Cani - Bruno - Eguren - Escudero
Llorente - Rossi
I hesitate to predict a win, but things seem to be moving (albeit ever so slowly) in the right direction. Not to mention, I am floating high right now after they have announced that the second leg against Puertollano has been moved back to midweek following the Valladolid match, meaning more Villarreal for me while I am in town! Villarreal 2-0 Tenerife. Happy Halloween and ENDAVANT VILLARREAL!!