Three matches, two points, seventeenth position in the table. Villarreal planned all this out, apparently, in an attempt to make Madrid a little too comfortable heading into El Madrigal.
I do not find myself among that crowd, especially with our injury woes. Valverde's squad includes players that are questionable health-wise, so if we are unlucky (i.e., if Senna, Fuster, and/or Nilmar, are not actually ready to go despite being included in the 18), we could be VERY thin tomorrow.
Keepers: Diego López and Oliva.
Defenders: Javi Venta, Ángel, Marcano, Godin, Capdevila and Gonzalo.
Midfielders: Cazorla, Bruno, Pires, Senna, Cani and Eguren.
Forwards: Nilmar, Jonathan Pereira, Llorente and Rossi.
And, to make sure you don't get your hopes up to high for the return of arguably our best player over the last few weeks, Ibagaza is out for the next six weeks.
I just don't see tomorrow being a very fun match. Pellegrini knows this team, including its weaknesses. As of right now, I don't think Valverde knows all of the team's weaknesses. Despite an impressive summer, and the thrashing of the overmatched Breda squad, Villarreal have recently looked, figuratively and literally, that they are stuck in the mud.
Madrid comes in with an amazing cohesiveness, considering the players and egos they added over the summer. Although they are not playing perfect football, the mere fact that they are winning right now says a lot, considering the turnover at the club (and I don't care who is on your team - if you don't mesh well, you lose). I have to think a lot of that credit goes to Manuel Pellegrini, El Ingeniero.
To make your dreams sweet tonight, here is Pellegrini's 18:
Keepers: Casillas and Dudek.
Defenders: Ramos, Marcelo, Drenthe, Albiol and Garay.
Midfielders: Gago, Diarra, Kaka, Lass, Guti, Van der Vaart and Granero.
Forwards: Raul, Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema and Higuain.
That is one hell of a scary lineup. If Pellegrini goes with the worst starting 11 of that bunch, they would still be very good. Notably, Van der Vaart made the lineup (although I would be shocked if he ended up on the pitch for anything but warmups). Players missing from the lineup include a fairly dazzling array: Alvaro Arbeloa, Xabi Alonso, Van Nistelrooy and Metzelder, due to injury, and Pepe, for having a temporary spell as a psychopath.
My guessed starting eleven for Villarreal:
Ángel - Gonzal0 - Godin - Capdevila
Cazorla - Cani - Eguren - Pires
Llorente - Rossi
Looking back over this post, it is a fairly negative preview. My apologies. Hopefully I get to eat all these words tomorrow. The match is available in the States on GolTV at 2pm eastern. ENDAVANT!