Great win for Villarreal on Saturday at Estadio El Madrigal. Now on to Alicante, with Mexican international Javier Aquino in tow, for a visit to local rivals Hércules. Always a highly-charged derbi.
Standings update: Still 6 points behind 2nd-placed Almería. Back in the playoff spots, 2 points ahead of Las Palmas.
Scoreboard watch: Two matches between direct rivals in jornada 26. Look out for Guadalajara-Almería, Córdoba-Alcorcón, and Girona-Las Palmas before our match on Sunday evening.
Five takeaways from the home victory over Ponferradina:
- Another clean sheet for a makeshift back four under Marcelino García Toral. Mario Gaspar stood out at right back, Chechu Dorado filled in admirably for injured center back Olof Mellberg, and Juan Carlos had little work in goal. After Real Madrid Castilla blasted Villarreal 5-0 in Marcelino's debut, the Yellow Submarine has posted 3 consecutive clean sheets.
- The Bruno Soriano and Marcos Senna pairing returned to the doble pivote with great success. Javier Farinós replaced Senna for the final half-hour and continued his solid play. A nice quandary for the manager.
- Rubén Cani controlled play in the midfield, running at defenders and generally wreaking havoc. His forced turnover created the opening tally. Manu Trigueros was surprisingly absent from the starting XI. With Aquino's arrival and the impending return of Hernán Pérez, there are five players for two spots behind the strikers.
- Jonathan Pereira continued to impress and got a fluky goal for his efforts. But they all count. Jérémy Perbet electrified the home fans with a debut double. Reminds us of Fernando Cavenaghi, but we hope things will turn out better - Cavegol only scored twice more in yellow.
- With Aquino and the triumphant return of Ikechukwu Uche (African Cup of Nations champion!), plus the return to fitness of Hernán and Javi Venta, we have more players than roster spots. Here's hoping the competition will bring out the best in everyone. And that Marcelino can massage egos accordingly.
Do you expect Javier Aquino in the starting XI on Sunday in Alicante? Ikechukwu Uche? And can the team continue its goalscoring ways away from El Madrigal?