Villarreal take on Numancia in their Los Pajaritos (the birds) stadium tomorrow. it's a compact ground, seats 9500 and there will be a couple of busloads, at least, of Villarreal supporters there who have braved the long trip. Plus our trusty correspondent orient1 who decided to spend a little more time in Soria than the official trip allows!
Our opponents: Numancia (named for the ancient Celtiberian town of Numantia, near present-day Soria) have a long history in the lower leagues, winning promotion to the Segunda B in 1989, remaining there until promoted to the Segunda in 1997, and, apart from four years in the Primera, have been there since. They've finished 8th, 10th and 10th the past three years.
This edition of the rojillos has gotten off to a slow start, and they've dropped their last three games. But their home record has been good, with wins against Sporting, Murcia and Lugo and a draw against Recre. Yet another offensively-challenged team in the Segunda: 9 goals for, 12 against in 11 matches.
The stadium: You can read about it, and see some pictures, here. I rather like the pine roof!
Villarreal connection: Airam Cabrera, who joined Numancia this season after a couple of seasons with our B team and a half-season with Cordoba. He hasn't scored yet this season, so we all know what's coming....
Danger man: Probably Cedric Mabwati, an attacking midfielder from the Democratic Republic of Congo (for those of you old enough to remember such things, that's the former Belgian Congo or Zaire). He sounds like the sort of player we might struggle to contain. There's another African connection too--Stephen "Sunny" Sunday, a Nigerian who was on Valencia's books once upon a time.
'Sunny Sunday' is as good a time as any to remind you the game is on Saturday (noon EDT in the US). Early is a good thing since Soria has the reputation of being the coldest provincial capital in Spain--as well as the sleepiest.
Recent visits: Villarreal B won here 1-0 in April 2012, a Kiko Olivas goal (!) giving Velazquez's men a win. Before that, in April 2011, Numancia won 2-1. A goal from Barkero was the winner, and our only goal was an Iago Falqué penalty.
Villarreal squad: Joan Oriol and Hernán Perez return from suspension; we are missing Olof Mellberg through injury. Here is the call:
Keepers: Juan Carlos, Diego Mariño.
Defenders: Javi Venta, Jaume Costa, Joan Oriol, Truyols, Musacchio.
Midfielders: Toribio, Bruno, Marcos Senna, Cani, Trigueros, Hernán Pérez , Moi Gómez.
Strikers: Pandiani, Uche, Cavenaghi y Gerard Bordas.
Notable unexplained absences are Florian Lejeune and Mario, so defense is looking rather thin. Some thought this week that maybe Bruno would slide back to play there, but Toribio struggled last time out so I doubt it. But then again, Coach Velazquez has held closed-door practices all week so we really don't know what to expect.
Yet again, Marca TV is providing coverage within Spain, so there should be some streams available. Endavant Villarreal!!!