After a nice win over Atlético that has everyone talking, Villarreal faces old rival Polideportivo Ejido tomorrow in the first leg of the Copa del Rey round of 32. Many remember the 5-0 shellacking delivered by a relegated Segunda side, but without goleador Jorge Molina, don't expect a similar outcome in Villarreal's first of 3 consecutive away matches in all 3 competitions. However, Estadio Santo Domingo will have more than 600 spectators, and the home side will be highly motivated to register a shock.
Garrido's small 16-man squad:
Keepers: Juan Carlos & Xavi Oliva.
Defenders: Mario, Kiko, Gonzalo, Catalá, Joan Oriol & Musacchio.
Midfielders: Matilla, Bruno, Borja Valero, Cristóbal, Cani & Jefferson Montero.
Strikers: Rossi & Altidore.
Garrido has left a number of regulars at home for the trip to deep Andalucía. Ángel, Capdevila, Cazorla, Diego López, Marchena, Nilmar, and Senna all get a rest, while Europa League match-winner Marco Ruben misses out due to injury. Unfortunate for the Argentine, but his absence provides Jozy Altidore with a chance to strut his stuff.
A number of my favorites should feature, including Juan Carlos in goal, Joan Oriol at left back, and Montero in a David Fuster-like role. I'm excited to see how they perform, even if the tie may not be wrapped up in El Ejido.
My expected starting XI:
Joan Oriol – Musacchio – Gonzalo – Mario
Borja – Matilla – Bruno – Montero
Rossi – Altidore
Prediction: Looking at the lineup from 2 years ago shows just how far our cantera has come. No more Viera, Cygan, Venta, and Edmilson, thankfully. Interestingly, the striker pairing was the very same Rossi – Altidore. I expect a 1-3 victory with goals from Rossi (2) and Montero (finally?). Endavant Villarreal!