Villarreal have the luxury of back-to-back Liga matches at El Madrigal, as Osasuna, a regular nemesis from the Basque country to the north, travels down to the Mediterranean and little Vila-real. Osasuna are troublemakers for the Yellow Submarine, but they have shown holes in the walls of their Pyranean fortress, crashing heavily out of the Copa del rey midweek, 0-3, against visitors Racing Santander.
Osasuna have had a busy but rewarding January. Since January 3rd, the team has already played eight matches, and on Sunday faces their ninth of the month. A match every three days will wear out even the deepest of teams, and Villarreal has to be ready to take advantage of that. The Racing result notwithstanding, Osasuna would probably tell Villarreal to not take anything from the number of matches they have played this month, as they have done admirably. They started the new year with a draw against Real Madrid, advanced against Hercules in the Copa del Rey, and also managed wins over Espanyol and Xerez in their last two Liga matches. Currently, they sit in 12th place, a mere three points behind the pace of Villarreal.
Villarreal are continuing their up and down season, unable to gain any momentum. After three straight La Liga victories in December, and a draw with Barcelona to start the new year, things had begun to look up. The scene quickly turned the other way, though, with Villarreal falling to lowly Celta de Vigo in the Copa, drawing 1-1 home to Almeria, and then embarrassing themselves 4-1 at Valencia. Last week's 4-2 home win against relegation favorites Zaragoza felt good, but didn't look all that good.
One way or another, it looks to be a tight match. Both teams are sitting mid-table, and when facing reality, have to admit that the dreams for the season should be aimed merely at safety. Plus, these two sides usually play close matches. The last four have ended in draws. In the three prior to that, it was two wins for the Basques, and one for the Yellows. One win for Villarreal in seven matches. In other words, to find a Villarreal victory, you have to go back to 2006-2007.
Villarreal's eighteen-man squad:
Keepers: Diego López and Xavi Oliva.
Defenders: Ángel, Godin, Gonzalo, Capdevila and Marcano.
Midfielders: Cani, Pires, Escudero, Bruno, Fuster, Ibagaza, Marcos Senna and Marcos Gullón.
Forwards: Llorente, Nilmar and Rossi.
Villarreal have the tools to win the match. But then again, they always have the tools to win the match. It is just rarely in recent times that they have been able to get all those tools working together for a result.
We need Pires in the match, and with Santi Cazorla out for a month, I would be surprised if he wasn't in there. Being at home, it is likely to be a 4-4-2, with Senna and Bruno in the middle, Cani and Pires on the wings, and a combination of either Rossi and Llorente or Rossi and Nilmar up front.
The match is on at 11am eastern, and streams will be available on rojadirecta.com. If you live in the States and have Directv, you are in luck, and should be able to watch the match on television.
We need this one, guys! ENDAVANT!