Get ready for some goals. Villarreal's questionable defense will meet up with Atlético's formidable strike duo of Kun Aguero and former Villarreal-man Diego Forlan, who just seem to score and score and score. There were thoughts midweek that Aguero would be out, but he has recovered at least enough to be on the bench. On the other hand, Atlético's defense is a persistent nightmare for the folks from southern Madrid, and although Villarreal is not getting overwhelming production from its strikeforce, the team is literally finding goals everywhere (thanks Joan!).
Both teams are experiencing a bit of a turn around after abysmal, embarrassing starts to their respective seasons. Villarreal thought things were bad, finding themselves at one point at the very bottom of the table, but the season suddenly looks a lot more promising. They secured passage through the Copa del Rey after a couple of difficult matches, and now have a comparatively unimposing path left in front of them, with the possible matchup in the next round against Atlético. In the Europa League, Villarreal has advanced to the knockout round with one match left to play in the group stage. Atlético, on the other hand, has been sweating for a bit longer, having found its form a couple of weeks after Villarreal began to take that corner. They have won their last two in La Liga, and also saw themselves ass through to the 1/8 Finals of the Copa, but it was too late to save their Champions League dreams. Not only did they bow out of the Champions League, they were holding their breath with the hopes that APOEL could not score one more goal to pull up the shocker at Stamford Bridge, or else they would have been pushing up European daisies.
And so, both teams look at this match as an absolute must-win. They are both miles away from even dreaming of playing in Europe next year, and every point from now on is vital. Villarreal are doing their best to ignore the fact that this is an away match, since those have been like trying to drill for water in the desert. Atlético are doing their best to forget the home 0-3 thump they took midweek against Porto.
Keepers: Asenjo and De Gea.
Defenders: Valera, Antonio López, Pernía, Juanito, Ujfalusi, Perea, Pablo Ibáñez.
Midfielders: Camacho, Raúl García, Jurado, Maxi Rodríguez, Paulo Assunção, Reyes, Simão.
Strikers: Forlán, Kun Agüero, Sinama-Pongolle
A lot of Villarreal's creativity will be watching the match from distance. In addition to the loss of Ibagaza for the rest of the month, Villarreal are without Robert Pires, who has a muscle injury. There is good news, though. As noted before, we recover Cani, after his red card was rescinded, and we will not be playing without a right back after Angel's red card, as Javi Venta will be ready to go. David Fuster is also recovered enough to be in the 18-man traveling squad.
Keepers: Diego López and Xavi Oliva.
Defenders: Gonzalo, Godin, Marcano, Javi Venta and Capdevila.
Midfielders: Cani, Eguren, Bruno, Marcos Senna, David Fuster, Escudero and Santi Cazorla (celebrating his 25th birthday).
Forwards: Nilmar, Llorente, Jonathan Pereira and Rossi.
Definitely a winnable match for Villarreal, but it is sure to be a nail-biter. Matches between the clubs always seem to involve seven goals and wait to be decided some time after the 80th minute.
The match is on GolTV at 1pm eastern. The best place to watch the match tomorrow is Summer's Restaurant in Arlington with Sidarth and myself, so come out an have a beer and watch the match. There will be a betting pool as to what minute in the match Gonzalo gets a red card (with a bonus if he gets one from the bench!). ENDAVANT VILLARREAL!
Edit - Nick here!! I'm sure the guys are all enjoying a few beers and settling in to watch the game but for anyone who couldn't make it across the Atlantic or Pacific then there will be a commentary kept up here. Kenez has posted the lineup in the comments below. 4-5-1. No real surprises with Rossi up front and Fuster playing behind him! Lets see if we can get a win!