Villarreal looks to build a little momentum from its weekend 2-1 victory over Athletic Bilbao, with another match at El Madrigal. It will be Juan Carlos Garrido's first European match. The last time we saw Villarreal in European competition, it was their dismal 0-1 loss to Salzburg in a meaningless match to end the group stage. This match means much more, and they will need to come out charging to take advantage of the home pitch and be in a good position for next week's second leg.
Wolfsburg are flailing as they get to Spain. Last year's German champion, Wolfsburg is now fighting against relegation. Wolfsburg have not won in their last ten Bundesliga matches, losing six of those. During that time, they also lost their last two matches of the Champions League group stage in the process of falling out of that competition.
We all know the ups and downs Villarreal have been experiencing. But things are looking up after the Bilbao match. Combine a tight-fought match against Mallorca, the win against Bilbao, and the presence of Garrido, and the feeling around the club is upbeat. The possibilities for the season are not unlimited, but they are much better than they were after the nightmarish Osasuna loss.
Villarreal's squad for the match:
Keepers: Diego López and Oliva.
Defenders: Ángel, Javi Venta, Godin, Marcano, Capdevila and Musacchio.
Midfielders: Bruno, Senna, Ibagaza, Pires, Cani, Escudero and Matilla.
Forwards: Nilmar, Llorente and Marco Ruben.
We are without the injured Fuster, who has been playing well lately, as well as Gonzalo, who has been playing lately. Not to mention, Santi Cazorla is still on the sidelines after his surgery.
Pires played 98 minutes the other day, so I would be very surprised to see him go a full match. Perhaps Garrido will actually save him for a sub role, considering that he has three strikers again.
Interestingly, as Villarreal were able to drop Fuentes, Jonathan, and Eguren from their European lineup, they have added the above-mentioned Musacchio, and in a surprise (at least to me), Jefferson Montero. I did not know he could be eligible for this, but perhaps before the end of the season, we could see him getting some time in the Europa League.
This is a MUST win. Villarreal needs to hit Wolfsburg in the mouth early, reminding them that they are on a huge winless streak.
The match is on GolTV tomorrow, live at 1pm.