Apparently the schedule makers figured that Villarreal's ragged squad had not traveled enough over the international break, and they have provided the team with a nice vacation to the southern coast of Spain for the weekend. Well, not so much a vacation as a torturous, short-handed, energy-sucking matchup against Almeria.
Villarreal have had ten internationals traveling all over the globe for the last nine or so days, and the lineup is going to suffer for it. Not only will the players be exhausted, but the team is experiencing injuries on top of injuries. The only unencumbered group for the match will be the forwards, if you do not consider Nihat's inevitable exhaustion after playing so much over just a couple of days. In the midfield, Senna, Cani, and Bruno are injured, Ibagaza is suspended, and surely Eguren should rest before Tuesday. The back line is not in great shape either, as Cygan is out, Godin is nursing a sore leg, and ironman Capdevila just knocked out 180 minutes on the pitch.
Almeria approach the match - like so many other teams we have played this season - on a three-match bender, having lost to Sevilla, Barcelona, and Real Madrid over the last few jornadas. Prior to those three matches though, they had won four and drawn three over their previous nine. They will be anxious to regain a little momentum against a Villarreal team surely to be looking ahead.
Alvaro Negredo returns for Hugo Sanchez's boys, which will cause some consternation among Villarreal's defense. They have a few injuries, though, and could be without goalkeeper Diego Alves, forward/midfielder Kala Uche, and midfielder Miguel Angel Corona.
I do not have Pellegrini's full squad at the time of this writing, so if someone would like to add it to the comments, it would be very appreciated. And although I always get it wrong, I will throw out my expected starting eleven:
Venta - Gonzalo - Fuentes - Capdevila
Cazorla - Anyone but Eguren (perhaps Viera?) - Mati - Pires
Llorente - Franco
I am very worried about this match, but I do not think it will affect Villarreal's confidence for Tuesday's match unless they get blown out. I expect it to be close, and I would not be surprised to see a draw. I will call for a 2-2 final score.
Just a couple of things. First, thanks Alex, here is the call:
Keepers: Diego López and Viera.
Defenders: Javi Venta, Gonzalo, Godin, Capdevila, Ángel, Cygan and Fuentes.
Midfielders: Eguren, Pires, Mati Fernández, Santi Cazorla, Bruno and Matilla.
Forwards: Rossi, Nihat, Llorente and Guille Franco.
Also, Pellegrini's statement on his squad:
"All of them have the normal fatigue involved in playing matches and the long journeys, but with the exception of Senna, all be fine for the match tomorrow"