Not a ton to say leading up to this match, as the season is so young (and because I just got back from a late-night trip to the doctor's office to get checked for Lyme disease - I guess that is what I get for going out in the woods). Of course, you can always double the length of the preview by mentioning Breda's full name: Nooit Ophouden Altijd Doorzetten Aangenaam Door Vermaak En Nuttig Door Ontspanning Combinatie Breda.
But this is a big match, and Villarreal come in with high expectations. We are the favorites - no doubt about that - but that only adds a lot of pressure to the situation. It doesn't make it any easier that NAC have three league matches under their belts (having won two of those, to pick up 7 points and find themselves tied for first place). Villarreal must have European competition this season, as we are always in a precarious situation when it comes to reputation across Europe, and European competition is mandatory to keep our rising stars. It has been since the embarrassing 2-3 aggregate against Maribor in 2006-2007 that we have missed out on a season's worth of European competition, and we can't let that happen again.
Villarreal will face an intimidating atmosphere in the Rat Verlegh Stadium, known historically as one of the toughest venues in Europe, especially at night. And Villarreal will be out of their comfort zone, finding themselves dressed in all black.
Keepers: Diego López and Oliva.
Defenders: Javi Venta, Ángel, Fuentes, Godín, Capdevila and Gonzalo.
Midfielders: Cazorla, Senna, Pires, Ibagaza, Fuster, Cani, Marcos Gullón (B team central midfielder) and Escudero.
Forwards: Jonathan Pereira, Llorente, Nilmar and Rossi.
Why not start the year off with a projected lineup? Here goes:
Ángel - Gonzalo - Godín - Capdevila
Cazorla - Senna - Ibagaza - Cani
Llorente - Rossi
Yes, I think Llorente, with his European experience will get the call over Nilmar for this first match. His familiarity with the squad and the goals he scored last year will be the deciding factor in his getting the call. I am not going to try to guess the final score, but I think Villarreal will pick up at least one - and possibly two - away goals, and will come away with at least a draw.