Well, we are all understandably down after three extremely lackluster matches (@Celta 1-1, Almeria 1-1, Celta 0-1). The season is in serious jeopardy after the Copa bow-out, and Villarreal's momentum is in the red at the moment. But Villarreal cannot hang their heads too low. The match against Valencia is both vital for regional supremacy, and for the points that are available. Valencia has been playing better than they have in years this season, but are definitely not invincible, and a draw or better is a possibility.
Perhaps the best thing going for Villarreal tomorrow is the fact that the match is away. Some cold weather has kept the crowds at El Madrigal to embarrassingly thin levels, and it should be good for the morale to go into a hostile environment like the Mestalla. Plus, it will give them a chance to wash away Tuesday's nightmare on the Villarreal pitch.
Valencia have been just fierce lately, winning 8 of 12, the only loss being against Real Madrid. They have surged into third in the table, and will be looking to solidify that standing tomorrow with the win over the regional upstarts from the north.
Despite Valencia's recent run of form, Villarreal have some history in their favor, having consistently played Valencia well over the last few years. Last year, Villarreal managed a 3-3 draw in Valencia, and a 3-1 win at home. The year before that, it was a pair of 3-nil victories for the Yellow Submarine. In 2006-2007, the teams traded away victories. and in 2005-2006, Villarreal took a 1-0 victory at home and managed a 1-1 draw at home. Thus, over the last four years, Villarreal have won five, lost one, and drawn two. Not too bad for some minnows, against the storied likes of "big team" Valencia, eh?
Villarreal recover Gonzalo for the match, but lose Marcano because of his disastrous red card, and Javi Venta due to the injury suffered against Celta. Good news, though, Senor Valverde has been reading our blog, and has brought in a couple of B-teamers for the match. ;) Kiko and Marcos Gullón have been called into the traveling squad. Jony Pereira (who announced he is seeking a winter transfer) and Eguren are left out by technical decision.
Keepers: Diego López and Oliva.
Defenders: Gonzalo, Ángel, Godin, Capdevila and Kiko.
Midfielders: Bruno, Senna, Cani, Cazorla, Pires, Escudero, Fuster, Ibagaza and Marcos Gullón.
Forwards: Rossi, Nilmar and Llorente.
As now-departed Kqql would be quick to point out, Valverde is likely to go with the 4-5-1/4-2-3-1 on the road, with Fuster playing the withdrawn striker. My guess is that it will be Rossi up front, but I would like to see Llorente get the start ahead of him. I would also not mind seeing pairing of Kiko/Godin in the back, but I doubt that will happen on the road; expect to see Gonzalo back on the pitch for the first time in a while. Hopefully he can manage to stay on the field for the full 90. Let's see if we can pull off the surprise here. Prediction: 1-1. ENDAVANT!
And, although it is completely irrelevant to Villarreal football, my Baltimore Ravens are taking on the Indianapolis Colts tonight. GO RAVENS!
EDIT: Match thread here. There should be plenty of streams on Rojadirecta. Let's hope for a great game of football.
EDIT 2: The Villarreal starting XI-- DIEGO LÓPEZ; ÁNGEL, KIKO, GODÍN, CAPDEVILA; BRUNO, SENNA; CAZORLA, FUSTER, CANI; NILMAR.