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Girona-Villarreal B PREVIEW

This evening (9PM Spanish time) two of the hottest teams in the Segunda battle each other at Girona's Montilivi stadium in what should be an entertaining match.

Both teams have something tangential, in all likelihood, to play for. There is a (very) slim chance that something will happen that results in one or more Primera clubs being relegated for financial reasons, and if that happens, the fourth-from-bottom place suddenly becomes a relegation place once again. It's an unlikely scenario, but Girona must surely be aware of it.

For Villarreal B coach Velásquez, as well as some of his players, it's another opportunity to keep building on recent successes. Sr. Roig told Velásquez he wanted the team to play hard and win their remaining games, not just play out the string. Remember that the B team flew back after beating Xerez to discover they had been relegated--this is a young team, by all accounts many of them were in tears, and yet they have come back to do very well and win their last two matches.

Our opponents, the town and the team: If you are wanting to have a nice day out and support the Mini Submarine, a visit to Girona is probably one of the best choices you could make. It's a reasonably small place (about 100,000 inhabitants), is an hour northeast of Barcelona by train; the old town sits on a hill to the west of the River Onyar, with the more modern part spreading out to the east. Girona has (restored) town walls along which you can walk, a cathedral, and a good deal of history (it's been besieiged 20+ times, and prior to the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 had one of the more famous schools of Kabbalists in Spain.

Girona has become a popular place for professional cyclists to live and train; Lance Armstrong and George Hincapie are among those who have done so. Girona hosts a summer soccer event, the "Torneig Costa Brava" which started out in 1970 as a four-team tournament but now is a game between Girona and another club for the trophy.

Now me, I would head for El Celler de Can Roca (a highly regarded restaurant), enjoy a nice meal and then head out to the Montilivi ground....

So, to the football!! Girona has mostly been a third-division club in recent years; their promotion to the Segunda in 2008 took place 49 years after their relegation, during which time the team went down to the regional leagues twice before making its way back up the divisions. They've finished 16th, 14th and 11th in their three years. This season began under the direction of Josu Uribe, but after a draw at Cartagena left them near the bottom of the table, the Catalans fired Uribe and hired former player (and briefly, former coach) Javier Salamero.

In his first game, Girona defeated top-of-the-table Deportivo 1-0, and though they lost the next match to Hercules in Alicante, since then they have reeled off four wins and three draws, and have been scoring goals in bunches while doing so.

Coach Salamero will be without defender David Garcia for this one (suspended), but he has been rotating his players a good deal anyway. The constants and key men seem to be defender Daniel Tortolero, midfielders Jandro Castro and Dani Nieto, and striker Ferrán Corominas (Coro). Tortolero is a Segunda veteran, as is Castro; Nieto is a young 21 year-old, who scored 3 goals against Alcoyano and added another one against Cordoba last weekend.

As for Coro, he came up in the Espanyol youth system, played in the Primera for them from 2008-10, spent a year with Osasuna, and now (at age 29) has moved to the Segunda. He's a local lad, and has scored 18 goals, including 6 in his last four matches.

Villarreal B: Coach Velasquez has a couple of injuries to deal with, Jaume Costa and Pedro Vásquez. The team call is pretty much the usual of late:

Keepers: Mariño, Jorge.

Defenders: Pere, Toño, Truyols, Kiko, Lejeune.

Midfielders: Moi Gómez, Pablo González, Toribio, Edu Ramos, Manu Trigueros, Lucas Porcar, Llorente, Iriome.

Strikers: Gerard Bordas, Juanto, Joselu.

Since there's another game this weekend, I'm thinking we may see some rotation ourselves. Porcar, Moi Gomez, and Llorente were all subs against Huelva, so might start here; Truyols and Pere didn't play in the back line then, so could now (with Kiko and Lejeune, I would think). And maybe Juanto gets a start?

Prediction: This is gonna be a toughie, because Girona are riding high. I see a game with a bunch of about Girona 2-2 Villarreal B. Vamos Mini-Submarino!!!