A comfortable-looking set of fixtures awaits Villarreal CF upon its return from the winter break. Including the victory over Mallorca before the holidays, 4 of the next 5 league matches were to take place at El Madrigal, where only Valencia and Barcelona have taken away points under Garrido. Sounds promising, at least on paper.
UD Almería is located on the Mediterranean coast and is the nearest big city to Poli Ejido. The club, founded only in 1989, had its best year under Unai Emery (before he moved to Valencia), with Álvaro Negredo leading the line. Former Castellón manager Oltra has some talent, including Crusat, Piatti, and Uche up front and world-class Brazilian keeper Diego Alves, but only 15 goals in 16 matches will land you in the drop zone.
Garrido's 18-man squad for the match:
Keepers: Juan Carlos & Diego López.
Defenders: Ángel, Mario, Gonzalo, Catalá, Kiko, Capdevila & Joan Oriol.
Midfielders: Borja Valero, Bruno, Matilla, Santi Cazorla, Cani & Jefferson Montero.
Strikers: Rossi, Marco Ruben & Altidore.
Marchena, Nilmar, and Senna are out with various injuries, while Musacchio picked up his fifth yellow card against Mallorca. Kiko and Mario come up from the B team, while Matilla (in from the doghouse), Montero (ditto), and Oriol (healthy) return to duty.
A few required changes to the typical XI:
Ángel – Catalá – Gonzalo (C) – Capdevila
Cani – Borja – Bruno – Cazorla
Ruben – Rossi
Prediction: Our injuries will complicate matters, as Musacchio and Nilmar would be tough to replace for any club. But I don't expect too much work for Catalá, while Ruben has showed good predatory instincts in limited playing time. 2-0 to Villarreal, with Rossi on target and in the record books. Endavant Villarreal!