Villarreal's up and down season has continued over the last couple of weeks, seeing the 3-1 victory over Valladolid followed by the ugly 1-0 loss to Gijon. Villarreal played well midweek to advance in the Europa League. They now have to put all of that aside and make a serious effort over the next month to climb the La Liga ladder and get into competition for the European spots.
Getafe are an enigma. So far on the season, they have six wins and six losses. They have some impressive wins - over Valencia and Athletic Bilbao - but also a disappointing loss against Almeria. What is most intriguing is their goal-scoring trends. In five matches, they have been held scoreless, but in their other seven matches, have totaled 19 goals, including an opening 1-4 away thrashing of Racing, and most recently, a 5-1 drubbing of Xerez. Most notably, perhaps, for the first time all season, Getafe are following up on back-to-back wins. They now sit comfortably in ninth place, only two points out of Europe.
Villarreal have the general feel of improvement over the last few matches, but things are still shaky. They have won three of the last five, showing the first signs of life after a listless start. Despite this, there is no question that at any moment, they can completely fail to show up on the pitch, like last week's heartless 1-0 loss at Sporting Gijon.
Villarreal will be missing a few players for the match. Gonzalo is out because, of course, he is coming off a red card. It is at the point that perhaps it should only be mentioned when he is not coming off a red card! Also in defense, Javi Venta has not recovered from the muscle he pulled against Valladolid. Unfortunately, both David Fuster and Ariel Ibagaza - two players that seem to bring out the best in Valverde's playing style - are out. Fuster is still out after going down against Levski Sofia in midweek. Ibagaza suffered a bruise to the right thigh, and is expected to be back for the Atletico match. Joseba Llorente made the lineup, but he is coming off a few days of gastroenteritis, so don't expect him to get the start, or have much energy if he makes it onto the pitch. The squad:
Keepers: Diego López and Xavi Oliva.
Defenders: Marcano, Ángel, Godín, Capdevila and Fuentes.
Midfielders: Cani, Eguren, Marcos Senna, Santi Cazorla, Bruno, Pires and Escudero.
Forwards: Jonathan Pereira, Nilmar, Rossi and Llorente.
I really do not know what Valverde will bring today. I can't imagine him wanting to put Senna and Bruno/Eguren in midfield, but without Fuster and Ibagaza, he might look back to the traditional double-pivot and play a bit conservatively. Theoretically, with Santi back, he could put Pires in as a withdrawn striker, with Cazorla on the left and Cani on the right.
Important note for today: the match is on GolTV at 1pm, and today you should be able to see the VillarrealUSA banner up behind the goal to the right, when viewing on your television screen, next to the banner for Els Flamencs Grocs.