Villarreal faces a difficult match tomorrow in the Canary Islands against Las Palmas-- the last two years Las Palmas handled our B team twice, and in fact Villarreal hasn't won there since the 2007-08 Copa del Rey, of all things. The Pio Pio have not exactly been on fire this season, and were whomped by Girona 5-0 last weekend. It's always dangerous to play a team coming off a debacle like that, especially so when a trip to the islands is never an easy win.
After selling sidarth's favorite Jonathan Viera, the Pio Pio have not scored more than one goal in any match this season; of course, Villarreal haven't exactly been pumping in the goals either. The islanders have already lost to Elche (3-1 away) and Alcorcon (3-1 at home); so, could the Yellow Submarine be headed for a win this time?
I would feel more confident if we knew Hernán Pérez would be available. He injured his knee in practice yesterday and travelled with the club to the Canaries, but may not be named to the squad if his fitness isn't improved. And with Cantero still recuperating, we could be in for another trial of Jaume Costa in midfield. Maybe this time it will work.
Our opponents: UD Las Palmas was founded in 1949 and immediately won two successive promotions to join the Primera, and for nearly forty years they were quite successful on the top flight. In 1967-68 they finished third, the following year second, finishing ahead of Barcelona but behind Madrid. Tenyears later they had a string of three excellent seasons, and they even made it to the final of the Copa del Rey in 1977-78, losing to Barcelona 3-1. That match was played at the Bernabeu; that wouldn't happen today! (and for you trivia fans, Villarreal lost in the first round of that year's Copa to Espanyol; we didn't have any luck then, either).
But the good times were not to last; in 1983 Las Palmas were relegated to the Segunda, and have managed only five seasons in the Primera since then (the last in 2001-02), and even spent six years in the Segunda B. Viera led them to a 9th place finish in 2011-12, but was then sold, and realistically the islanders' goal this season is probably just to consolidate a mid-table position, given that they've been in relegation scrapes four of the last six seasons.
Vitolo is probably their danger man--he had 10 goals a year ago--though Nauzet has had some good seasons for Valladolid so bears watching too. The real question is whether Villarreal can put the Pio Pio defense under pressure, because so far this season when opponents have done so, it has crumbled.
Our club: Coach Velasquez has taken this team with him to Gran Canaria:
Keepers: Juan Carlos and Mariño.
Defenders: Mario, Mellberg, Joan Oriol, Musacchio and Lejeune.
Midfielders: Marcos Senna, Cani, Bruno, Trigueros, Jaume Costa, Hernán Pérez, Toribio and Moi Gómez.
Strikers: Uche, Cavenaghi, Pandiani and Gerard Bordas.
for the second week in a row, there is no place for Javi Venta. Mario had an excellent game last week so is rewarded with another start, apparently. Mellberg, Musacchio and Oriol will surely make up the rest of the back four in front of Juan Carlos, so the key question is whether Hernan Perez is able to play (and start) or not.
I am expecting not, so figure a 4-2-3-1 with Senna, Bruno, Trigueros, Cani, Jaume Costa and Cavenaghi up front.
Don't forget, everyone, this week, cheer for the guys in black. Las Palmas wear yellow, so we debut our nifty change strip for this year!
Allen's prediction: I don't know why anyone should listen to me, given my performance in the quiniela so far, but I'm going for a 1-1 draw. Given how badly we typically play here, I would be OK with that.
Gametime is 1pm EDT and we believe Marca TV is going to show the game in Spain, so there should be streams.
And don't forget, people, we still have some club pins available--email me if you want one.