How about a Valencian derby at El Madrigal (not in the Mini Estadi) to open your first-ever campaign in the Segunda A? Not bad. And with players of great quality and promise, including Jefferson Montero, Hernan Perez, and Joan Tomas, to name a few, we can look forward to great things from this team. But without a doubt, the primary focus is to remain in the category.
Note that even if Villarreal B were to finish in the top 3, thereby "earning promotion" to the Primera, Villarreal A would have to be relegated in the same season for the promotion to take effect (this is not true in Turkey, where the same club can have multiple teams in the same division. Talk about match fixing...). In that scenario, the teams would trade squads, and it would be as if nothing had happened. File that plan away if the A team's season goes horribly south...
Anyhow, here is the squad for today's game. My predicted starters in red:
Goalkeepers: Juan Carlos & Vicente Flor.
Defenders: Mario, Joan Oriol, Edu, Carlos Tomás (from Villarreal C) & Català.
Midfielders: Marcos, Matilla, Natxo Insa, Hernán Pérez, Cristóbal, Jefferson Montero, Nuno Coelho & Gerard Bordas.
Forwards: Joan Tomás, Robert Flores & Marco Ruben.
Jefferson Montero is now listed as a midfielder, for future reference. No Kiko (the unlikely goalscorer against Breda), as he may be called up to the first team in Pamplona on Sunday, depending on the health of Gonzalo and Godin. And interestingly, Bruno Renan and Tiago Dutra are listed as injured. You may recall that Dutra reportedly returned to Brazil without the club's permission. As a result, his contract supposedly was canceled. Hopefully it was a youthful indiscretion and Dutra can reenter the club's long-term plans (when he was signed, he was discussed as a possible successor to Marcos Senna).
Game thread to come when the match starts at 12 noon ET. For now, comment away.
27': 0-1 Levante, Sergio Ballesteros scores. Levante hit the bar right beforehand and scored on the rebound.
30': 0-2 Levante, Juanlu scores on a shot from just inside the area. Juan Carlos got a hand to it but could not make the save. 2 chances, 2 goals for Levante.
45'+1: 0-2 Levante, but Jefferson Montero just had a great chance off a slip pass through from Matilla. Put it just wide of the far post. Montero has been the best player for Villarreal B.
Halftime: 0-2 to Levante. Really an unfair scoreline on the balance of play. We've edged possession, drawn more fouls, and had all of the corners. However, Levante is a very experienced team (looking for promotion) and good on the counterattack, and that's how they have the lead. Tough opponent in the first match of the season for a young team.
I really appreciated the fact that our home fans applauded the team after Levante scored the 0-2 goal. Some Levante fans in the stands, but we were doing the cheering. Joan Tomas squandered a great chance 1v1 and the Montero opportunity were our main attempts on goal, so it really could be 2-2. Let's see what the second half holds.
50': 0-2 Levante, great chance for Joan Tomas in 46' on a header off a cross, but an equally good save from the Levante keeper. Getting closer...4 yellow cards for Levante versus only Cristobal for our team.
59': Hernan Perez in, Cristobal out. Nice ovation for the Paraguayan.
61': 1-2 Levante, Joan Tomas scores the first goal in the category! What a horrible misplay of a cross by Matilla from the right side. The Levante goalkeeper, who has made a number of great saves, including one to deny Matilla a few minutes earlier, fumbles a cross into Joan Tomas, who bundles it over the line. The crowd is buzzing!
74': 2-2, Marco Ruben ties the game on a pass from Joan Tomas. Lots of pressure turned into the equalizer.
Fulltime: 2-2. Wonderful comeback from 2 goals down in the second half. Robert Flores came in for Mario and Gerard Bordas for Joan Tomas late in the game. I missed the beginning and end, as the stream went down, but a very positive result to start the season.
I look forward to an enjoyable match next week in Cordoba. Join me: same time, same place next Saturday. Tomorrow Nick or Maddi will join you for the A team opener in Pamplona. So long.