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Result: Hércules 2-2 Villarreal

La Liga returns after another international break. Bad timing when Villarreal has won 6 matches on the trot, but that's life. Now comes a very busy and important stretch, including another 5(!) matches in October alone.

The first of these is a Monday night encounter in Alicante against surprise package Hércules CF. Despite the questionable circumstances surrounding its promotion, this is not your typical bottom-feeder. Having won at Camp Nou with two goals from Paraguayan international Nelson Haedo Valdez, Hércules will not be intimidated.

But for all of their attacking options, including Trezeguet and ex-Madrid whirlwind Drenthe, Hércules CF is tied with Nilmar on 5 goals for the season. And their defense looks decent, but Getafe just scored 3 on them (and it could have been more). Just like our previous away match in Málaga, Villarreal can take all 3 points with a good effort.

Garrido's 18-man squad has a couple of changes:

Keepers: Diego López and Xavi Oliva.
Defenders: Ángel, Gonzalo, Musacchio, Catalá, Capdevila and Joan Oriol.
Midfielders: Senna, Bruno, Borja Valero, Jefferson Montero, Cazorla and Cani.
Strikers: Altidore, Nilmar, Rossi and Marco Ruben.

Joan Oriol and Xavi Oliva (it's been a while) provide cover for the injured Marchena and Juan Carlos, respectively. Get well soon, Carlos. And Cani is healthy again, so Matilla returns to limbo (I don't think it's the doghouse just yet).

My expected starting XI:

Diego López
Capdevila – Musacchio – Gonzalo – Ángel López
Cazorla – Senna – Bruno – Borja
Rossi – Nilmar

Prediction: Another tough match, but after the success in Málaga, I believe this team can win away from El Madrigal. I'll say 1-2 to Villarreal, with the usual suspects Nilmar and Rossi on the scoresheet. Endavant Villarreal!