Well, this stinks. I was supposed to be watching this match in person in two weeks, but alas, Puertollano raised objections to moving the match, and the LFP reversed the decision to reschedule the match. Nevertheless, Villarreal must continue without my presence in the stands, and will attempt to continue their general uptick in form. They will have to step things up and keep Puertollano off the scoreboard to advance to the next round of the Copa del Rey.
Since the last match, Villarreal continued its turnaround with a 5-0 thumping of Tenerife and a 4-1 drubbing of Lazio. Result-wise, the weekend match against Sevilla didn't bring in any points, but Villarreal have to feel good about how they played for most of the match in a very difficult environment against a team in great form.
Puertollano followed up the Villarreal draw with a 0-0 away draw to mid-table Real Ovieda, and then a 3-0 blowout of cellar-dwellers UD Lanzarote. They now find themselves in seventh place in Group 2, with 19 points through 12 matches.
Villarreal will be thrilled to have reinforcements to make things a bit easier. Marcos Senna and, shockingly, Joseba Llorente, are both available for this return leg. Also, Nilmar has served his suspension and will be available for Valverde, but y0u have to wonder if the manager is going to like the idea of turning Nilmar loose when Puertollano, already a heavy-challenging team, might look to get a little revenge for that elbow.
The injuries, as well as international duty for the Uruguayans, are keeping things a bit thin. Ibagaza and Cazorla are out through injury. Diego Godin and Eguren have traveled to South America. Valverde only 16 players for the match, leaving Fuentes and Fuster out for a technical decision. Obviously, and unfortunately, Fuentes is done with Valverde. I don't understand the Fuster decision, though, considering the lack of depth in the midfield. The squad:
Keepers: Diego López and Xavi Oliva.
Defenders: Gonzalo, Kiko, Ángel, Marcano and Capdevila.
Midfielders: Marcos Gullón, Bruno, Cani, Escudero and Marcos Senna.
Forwards: Llorente, Rossi, Nilmar and Jonathan Pereira.
We should be able to pull this out. We have a full set of options up front, and goalscoring, which wasn't coming easy leading up the the first leg, has suddenly become much more frequent. I think we pass through with a comfortable 3-1 victory.