After a week away from football, Villarreal CF has returned to the pitch in preparation for a busy beginning to 2011. Almería at home on Monday, Valencia in the Copa on Thursday, and a visit to the Bernabeu on Sunday evening. Welcome back, boys.
There's a plethora of transfer rumors, not surprising for a team near the top of its league, but I'd imagine that our priority is a central midfielder. And Marcos Senna's injury only has sped up that search. Senna, who hobbled off at the Mestalla during the cup tie, will be out around a month with (yet another) hamstring injury. He will return to Villarreal on Saturday to begin treatment. Best wishes to a class act.
Borja Valero, in particular, will be called upon in Senna's absence, though his performances in the middle have not been convincing. Javi Matilla is another option, but Garrido has not preferred one of the club's up-and-coming talents. Cani often ends up in the middle, though he typically starts out on the wing, but I would prefer a relatively inexpensive winter signing to the ex-Zaragoza man (remember Eguren?). The pressure is on Bruno to bear the load, but I think the Spanish international is up for the challenge.
What's worse, our other Brazilian Nilmar also has a leg injury which will keep him out for around a month. His meniscus issues have flared up off and on since his first stint in Europe with Lyon, so let's hope that he is able to return at full strength. Get well soon.
The load up front now falls on Rossi, but the in-form Jersey boy has played with a chip on his shoulder after the World Cup snub, so I expect little drop-off. Ruben and Altidore, to a lesser extent, have a great opportunity with Nilmar's injury. In limited looks, Ruben has been productive (particularly in the Europa League), while Jozy has improved his work rate and should get a shot (beyond the Copa). Though I expect both players to feature, Ruben should start on Monday due to his familiarity with Garrido's system.
All in all, a great year for Villarreal CF ends on a bit of a sour note. VillarrealUSA wishes you and your family a very happy New Year. See you on the blog in 2011.