One away win the entire season (and what a win), yet Villarreal CF is only 8 points out of a Champions League spot. Two away matches in four days against teams squarely in the bottom half of La Liga. And the big teams all visit El Madrigal to finish off the season. Things are set up for the team to make a run up the table. Can they do it?
The "first leg" finished 2-1 to Villarreal, which was the team's first win of the season after 8 jornadas. Capdevila scored the game-winner on a gorgeous free kick, and Ernesto Valverde was off the mark. How times have changed. So far, Juan Carlos Garrido has taken all 9 points in play at El Madrigal, but only 1 of 9 away (the poor 0-0 at 10-man Espanyol). The next four days are a great chance to improve upon that record.
The 18-man squad for tomorrow's match:
GKs: Diego López and Xavi Oliva.
Ds: Ángel, Javi Venta, Godin, Musacchio, Gonzalo, and Capdevila.
MFs: Bruno, Marcos Senna, Cani, David Fuster, Ibagaza, Pires, and Escudero.
Fs: Llorente, Rossi, and Nilmar.
Musacchio is in the squad as cover for the "tocado" Gonzalo, while Catala was returned to the B team. This will be a "vida o muerte" game, as Malaga is fighting to stay up (only 4 points above the drop zone). If Villarreal can match the home side's intensity, they should not leave La Rosaleda empty-handed. But that has been the big 'if' all season long.
As a nice present to Marcos Senna, I predict that he will score off a free kick. But I foresee a 1-1 result, with Malaga's goal also from a set piece. Endavant Villarreal!