The Mini Submarine bids farewell to the Segunda Division tomorrow, hosting Segunda champions Deportivo at El Madrigal. Entry is free, and Javi Venta will be presented as a Villarreal player before the game.
Our opponents: Deportivo were only relegated last year--one ore point would have saved them in the Primera, like us this time--and the way in which they've managed their return could perhaps serve as a template for our efforts next season. The club kept veterans like Diego Colotto and Riki, they added a couple of players (Bruno Gama from Portugal and ex-Nastic man Alex Bergantiños being the key ones).
The club has been playing well all season, but since late November their form has been excellent: in their last 27 Segunda games they have won 21, drawn 2, and lost only 4. And they have needed all those wins, because Celta and Valladolid have been nipping at their heels all the way through.
Only Celta have scored more goals, and their defensive record is the seventh best (in case you doubt the importance of defense in the Segunda, the top seven teams in the league defensively are the top seven in the table).
According to an English-language Depor website, we should not expect their first team for this game. Partly that's because of international callups (Andres Guardado and Lassad), injuries (Salomao, Jesus Vasquez, Ze Castro, Valeron), and personal issues (Borja). There will be some callups from Depor's B team to at least give a squad of 18.
Villarreal B: As we all know, this is the last game in the Segunda for the B team, though they will end up between 11th and 14th in the table depending on results--and since December they've been even better. In a season where the first team broke our hearts time after time, the B team has played some great football and has been a treat to watch.
On behalf of all Villarreal supporters, our thanks and best wishes go out to Coach Velasquez, his staff, and the players of the Mini Submarine.
Coach Velasquez has not yet released his squad for this match, but I would expect his team to be the usual. (Jaume Costa has been injured, though, so I suspect will not play). Certainly the coach will be gunning for a win to send us off into the summer with some good feelings, and for all we know he may still be auditioning for the first-team job. After the Cartagena debacle, it would certainly be great to finish the season on a high note.
Diego Mariño returns from international duty, and will make his El Madrigal debut, we hope; players like Trigueros (expected to be with the first team next year) and Joselu (who should tear up the Segunda B next season with the B team, I believe) will get a chance to strut their stuff.
When these two clubs played in Galicia, the first 45 minutes were perhaps the best half of the season for the Mini Sub and they were very unlucky to lose 1-0, the goal coming from Guardado late on. If the team can play that well this time, they should take all three points.
Prediction: Villarreal B 2-1 Deportivo. It's only fitting that this team, being relegated through no fault of their own, should win this one. Please, let's make it happen.