I guess "first thing this morning" didn't exactly play out as planned....
After last week's tremendous draw at the Camp Nou, Villarreal should have been able to carry its momentum into the midweek scrum with lowly Celta Vigo. Unfortunately, they couldn't keep the good form going, and after a well-played 40+ minutes, gave up the lead and then drowned in their own mediocrity.
Nonetheless, Villarreal are riding their longest unbeaten streak of the La Liga season, four matches (Getafe, Atletico, Racing, Barcelona). This is a team against whom they should be able to continue that streak.
Almeria's table-standing has generally been following a downward slope since the beginning of the year, and comes into the match three short points away from the drop zone, and have to feel like they are facing a season-long struggle. They managed a home 1-0 win over bottom-feeders (and Villarreal-beaters) Xerez last week, but in the five previous matches, had lost four.
Almeria have managed sixteen goals on the season. Notably, they tend to score during three particular periods of time during their games. Three of their goals have been scored between 30 and 45 minutes, three more between 45 and 60, and six have come in the final 15 minutes of the matches. In what should be a warning note for Villarreal, of the 20 Villarreal have conceded in La Liga this term, 9 have come between the 30th and 60th minutes of their matches. That could be the most dangerous period of the match for the Yellows.
This is a necessary three points for Villarreal. They are on a bit of an island at the moment in ninth place. While they are only one point ahead of a quickly retreating Sporting club, they are four behind Bilbao for 8th, and five ahead of the enigma that is Atletico Madrid. So although these three points cannot shoot them up the table in the immediate, it could put them in good position to take over the places of Bilbao, Getafe, and Deportivo.
Villarreal are only bringing four defenders into today's squad, which is pretty amazing at this level. They will have Eguren and Bruno who could slide in if there was an emergency, but Javi Venta will be watching from the stands while Angel is the only available right back.
The midfield, though, will be deep, with the addition of Marcos Gullón from the B team. Could this be a suggestion of where Valverde is planning on going player-personnel-wise?
This is a very winnable, and perhaps must-win match. Home matches are vital if you are aiming at Europe, especially against the bottom-of-the-barrel teams in the league. This should be at minimum a 2-0 win. ENDAVANT!