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Preview : Racing Santander v Villarreal CF

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Maddi's away this weekend so I will be taking charge of the preview this time round. It's actually my first post in months but having solved some very tiresome internet issues, I hope to be contributing a lot more from now on. So on to the game, the injury to Gonzalo is a major blow for us considering how badly our defense has been performing and the lack of quality cover. Capdevila is also out which means we will probably see Bruno or perhaps Javi Venta slot in at left back. The return of Nihat to the squad is a boost, although it's very unlikely that he will play from the start. Here is the full squad :

Diego López ,Viera,Javi Venta, Ángel, Godin, Fuentes ,Cygan,Marcos Senna, Eguren, Santi Cazorla, Mati Fernández, Pires, Ibagaza, Cani y Bruno,Rossi, Llorente, Nihat, Guille Franco.

The win over Numancia was crucial last week and it's important to carry on in the same vein against 11th placed Racing. They lost 1-0 to Madrid and 2-1 to Barcelona in their previous two games so they will be no pushover. Key to their attack will be the giant Serbian Nikola Zigic, that is of course if he plays and at the moment that looks unlikely. He has done remarkably well since returning from Valencia and his presence would have caused problems so the injury is well timed from our point of view. Our own Jonathan Pereira who is on loan in El Sardinero is not permitted to play against his parent club, which is pretty good for us as he's been very impressive in his debut Primera season.

I expect to see something resembling the following from Pellegrini :

Diego López
Ángel - Fuentes - Godin - Bruno
Cazorla - Eguren - Senna -Pires
Rossi - Llorente

Senna looked assured for Spain in midweek so hopefully he can produce a commanding display. Rossi is on fire at the moment so our main tactic should be simply to get him the ball around the box. His confidence will be sky high after his impressive 45 minutes for Italy and the resulting praise from Marcello Lippi. The attacking midfield debate still rages on Villarreal forums across the web as to who form the best combination. It really is hard to choose as each player brings something different. However for this match I think we will stick with the old faithful Pires - Santi combo. Unfortunately Mati is being pushed further towards the edge of proceedings, saying that Pellegrini could give him a start tomorrow so unpredictable are his team choices.

This fixture is very winnable, Racing will be tired mentally after facing the big two in the previous two weeks and perhaps we will have regained some of our confidence and flair after last weeks timely success. Needless to say a win is vital to stay in touch with the Champions League places. We have been somewhat fortunate that teams around us haven't been at their peak either (Atleti,Valencia,Sevilla) but now we need to get back to playing our best football. No doubt we have the talent, I think it's just confidence we need. I'm gonna predict that we sneak a 0-1 win with the main man Giuseppe Rossi being the scorer. I might not be around to make a match thread so anyone who finds streams etc do please post them here! Come on lets get the submarine motoring again! Endavant Villarreal!!!