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Match Preview: Villarreal - Málaga

Things do not seem to get any easier, do they? Villarreal recover from a 0-3 pummeling against Almeria last week, during which they lost Cazorla from the season, to draw 1-1 with Arsenal in a thrilling mid-week tie. And in breaking even against Arsenal, they lose both Cani and Mati for the upcoming weekend's match. Throw in the fact that Pires is suspended, and you have to begin to wonder just where we are going to look to put a couple of midfielders on the pitch. Might we have to resort to a 4-2 lineup against Málaga? Well, it isn't quite that bad....

Villarreal's overall performance through the last three weeks is not impressive. They have lost two of three in the league, and the second half of the Arsenal match surely felt like a loss. Not to mention the ridiculous personnel issues, and Villarreal must be feeling a bit lost at sea. Villarreal come in a mere two points in front of Valencia, and a spitting-distance five ahead of Atletico Madrid, Deportivo La Coruna and Málaga.

Málaga themselves come in a bit off the trot. Over their last five, they have one win, one draw, and three losses, including a 6-0 drubbing at Barcelona. They are still nipping at Villarreal's heels for that last Champions League spot, though, and you know they want it. They will come out strong, with the view that all three points are winnable.

Málaga are without forward Juan José Luque, but otherwise will not have any injury worries.

Pellegrini's call is a bit unusual, due to injury:

Keepers: Diego López and Viera.
Defenders: Gonzalo, Fuentes, Godin, Capdevila, Ángel and Cygan
Midfielders: Marcos Senna, Eguren, Ibagaza, Bruno, Jordi Pablo and Cristóbal.
Forwards: Nihat, Rossi, Llorente and Guille Franco.

Hopefully Eguren will get a break. Ideally, everyone would get a break - we dragged the entire second half last week. And here is something I am just throwing out there, as I wouldn't mind seeing it: Nihat and Llorente up top. Neither of them have been showing much lately (of course, Rossi hasn't scored in quite a few matches, either), but perhaps putting the two of them out there might pull out a little magic.

Diego López
Ángel - Gonzalo - Fuentes - Capdevila
Jordi Pablo - Marcos Senna - Bruno - Ibagaza
Nihat - Llorente

I am not going to give a prediction - all I want is to avoid more injuries. Although a win is absolutely vital, this is probably the last weekend we can get away with losing focus and dropping a couple of points while still remaining somewhat ok (but Valencia is driving hard for the last CL spot). And the only reason I even mention that is how big a match they have coming up on Wednesday. But hopefully that will not be a concern - having three full days in between the Málaga match and Wednesday's London battle should give Villarreal the opportunity to stay focused on the task at hand.