Life is just a matter of perspective. The recent history of Málaga CF dovetails nicely with that of Villarreal CF; both made their modern-era debuts in La Liga just over a decade ago. The contrast is in where the sides have ended up in the table.
Málaga has never finished above 7th in La Liga (in the 1970s) and has one UEFA Cup appearance to its name, reaching the quarterfinals in 2002-03. Not bad for a side with a 30,000-seat ground, but that record is not a patch on Villarreal's. El Submarino Amarillo has finished in the top 7 in La Liga on 7 occasions, including the last 6 campaigns, and has reached both the UEFA Cup and Champions League semifinals.
To put the 2005-06 Champions League semifinal appearance in perspective, only 9 other clubs have reached that stage in the past 5 years (inclusive). The glamorous list: England's big 4 (Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester United), AC Milan, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, and Lyon (the last 3 in 2009-10). Impressive.
But matches are not won in the history books or on the team sheet. Garrido's 18-man squad for today's encounter:
Keepers: Diego López and Juan Carlos.
Defenders: Ángel, Capdevila, Marchena, Gonzalo, Musacchio and Catalá.
Midfielders: Senna, Bruno, Borja Valero, Cani, Cazorla and Jefferson Montero.
Forwards: Nilmar, Rossi, Marco Ruben and Altidore.
No changes from the last 2 matches. Mario featured for the B team in Saturday's triumph over Girona, so Catalá provides defensive cover. I'd make just one change, Cani for Senna, from Thursday's lineup:
Capdevila – Musacchio – Marchena – Ángel López
Cazorla – Borja – Bruno – Cani
Rossi – Nilmar
Prediction: Tough match to call. I'll go with a 1-1 draw, with our goal from Rossi, but it will be on a knife's edge. Too bad it's a Monday night match, as the neutral would enjoy the contrasting open styles. Endavant Villarreal!