UPDATE- Quick highlights of the goals:
After a morale-boosting victory against Athletic, El Submarino Amarillo returns to action in the Copa del Rey against our nemesis Polideportivo Ejido. The first leg of the round of 32 tie ended 1-1, with Jozy Altidore on the scoresheet, but things should have been wrapped up at the Estadio Santo Domingo. After last year's debacle against Celta, we underestimate lower-division opposition at our own peril.
Many regulars will rest with an eye to Saturday night's showdown at the Camp Nou, giving some fringe players a chance to impress. An early goal or two would calm our nerves and allow Garrido to spread around playing time.
The 16-man squad for today's match:
Keepers: Juan Carlos & Xavi Oliva.
Defenders: Mario, Catalá, Gonzalo, Joan Oriol & Musacchio.
Midfielders: Senna, Matilla, Cristóbal, Jefferson Montero, Cani & Cazorla.
Strikers: Rossi, Altidore & Ruben.
The good news: Marco Ruben returns after three weeks on the shelf. In his last appearance, he scored the only goal in our Europa League victory over PAOK. The bad news: Gonzalo returns from suspension. I'm kidding, mostly, and he likely won't feature.
My guess at today's starting XI:
Joan Oriol – Musacchio – Catalá – Mario
Cristóbal – Matilla – Cani – Montero
Altidore – Ruben
Prediction: Based on recent form, this match does not forebode another Copa del Rey failure against lower-division opposition. We should advance another round or two, at least. 3-0 to Villarreal, with goals from Altidore and Montero. Endavant Villarreal!