Welcome back to another thrilling installment of Villarreal B. All the frustration of the A team without the disappointment of defeat. And guess what, one of Villarreal's teams is not in the drop zone. And it's not the one we all expected.
Villarreal B welcomes Albacete to the Mini Estadi on Saturday afternoon. Albacete are on 6 points, having scored 7 goals and conceded 9 (2nd and 2nd-worst in the league, respectively). So despite what Albacete youth team product Matilla says, expect an open match between two mid-table sides. Albacete has spent 7 seasons in the Primera in the past two decades; this is their 5th straight year in Segunda A.
Here is the squad for today's match. My predicted starters in red:
Goalkeepers: Juan Carlos and Vicente Flor.
Defenders: Carlos Tomás, Joan Oriol, Kiko, Mateo Musacchio, Costa, Mario, and Catalá.
Midfielders: Jefferson Montero, Natxo Insa, Cristóbal, Matilla, and Robert Flores.
Forwards: Marco Ruben, Joan Tomás, Cubillas, and Fofo (last two from C team).
Same goalkeepers and defenders, but a few changes up the pitch. Veteran midfielder Gerard Bordas will miss out with a knock, along with midfielder David Lazaro (technical decision). In line with my prediction, defender Edu is fully out of favor with manager Juan Carlos Garrido. Midfielders Marcos Gullon and Hernan Perez are with Spain and Paraguay, respectively, at the U-20 World Cup in Egypt (along with the C team's Spanish goalkeeper Diego Marino). To fill the void, forwards Cubillas and the delightfully named Fofo have been called up from the C team.
As a side note, how rough is it to make the Spanish national team while only the #6 goalkeeper at Villarreal? That's impressive depth. Watch out, Diego Lopez: Marino is only 19 years old.
Game starts at 12 noon Eastern time. Endavant!
UPDATE: Unfortunately, Real Madrid is playing in the same time slot, the local Valencian channel is showing Castellon-Rayo, and Albacete is not a big team. So a radio feed, and a simulcast at that, is all we get, along with scoreboard coverage. We play Cartagena in the early game next Saturday, so I'll have full coverage of that.
I'll be back if I can catch any updates.
17', 1-0 Villarreal B: First goal in Spain for Jefferson Montero. Off a pass from Cristobal. Great to see the Ecuadorian international off the mark. I think he'll be on the A team for the second half of the season. Can they hold the lead? Let's see if they've learned some lessons.
34', 1-1: Albacete's Christian Stuani (formerly of Reggina in Serie A) scores his fifth goal of the year, breaking the tie with Marco Ruben for pichichi of Segunda. Sounds like Albacete has had a lot of pressure since our goal, so the scoreline reflects the play so far.
Halftime, 1-1: Some back and forth, but not a bad half. We need to go for the 3 points at home, so let's see if Robert Flores comes on a bit later. In other news, our top scorer in Segunda B Chando just scored for Murcia.
50', 1-1: Penalty won by Cristobal. 4th yellow card for Albacete. But captain Joan Tomas fails to convert. And yes, you may ask why the white-hot Marco Ruben did not take it, as that was our 3 points...
78', 1-2 Albacete: Old hand Salva Ballesta (formerly of Malaga and Levante) gives the lead to Albacete. He came on for the goalscorer Stuani, who earlier was denied on a 1v1 by Juan Carlos. Our manager Garrido was sent to the showers for arguing with the referees. That's normally what happens when you miss a penalty...do we have another last-minute response in us?
85', 1-2 Albacete: Robert Flores, Catala, and C team player Fofo have come on for Villarreal B. Little time left...
90'+1, 2-2: And Marco Ruben comes through! His 5th in 5 games. And we may just pull a point out of the fire.
Fulltime, 2-2: Another member of the Villarreal coaching staff was sent off. Then Cristobal and Sousa of Albacete received their marching orders for a second yellow card. So the game ends with both teams at 10 a side, and Cristobal will be suspended for next week's match in Cartagena.
I'm not sure we'd have taken all 3 points even if Joan Tomas had converted the penalty, as both the A and B teams have had trouble keeping leads. Something to work on in training, but we have no such problems up front. Now up to 7 goals on the year, 5 by Marco Ruben. And the team's fighting spirit is admirable. Come back tomorrow for the A team's game in Coruna.