Villarreal host Numancia at El Madrigal on Sunday knowing that at the very least a win would move them ahead of Alcorcón in the standings, and if Girona and Almeria slip up, we could even end the weekend in second place. But let's not get ahead of ourselves--it's a tough assignment.
Our opponents: Numancia are one of the smaller-budget teams in the Segunda, but that hasn't stopped them putting together a useful squad. African midfielders Cedric Mabwati and Stephen "Sunny" Sunday add some spark, and Natalio Lorenzo has chipped in with 10 goals. A recent run of eight games without defeat (4 wins and 4 draws) has pushed them to 12th in the table, and with 45 points already in hand it looks like they've done enough to ensure they'll be in the Segunda for another season.
Motivation might be an issue, then, since promotion isn't going to be forthcoming, but I expect the Soria club to put a lot of players behind the ball and force us to break them down, playing for a point. And their defense has been pretty good--their three away matches in that eight-game streak have ended up 0-0, 0-0, and 1-1. Granted, the first two of those results were against teams that haven't scored a lot (Murcia and Lugo) though they both scored against us at El Madrigal!
Coach Pablo Machin will be without the suspended Jaio and Antonio Tomás for this one.
Villarreal: Mellberg and Farinós are both out with Achilles tendon issues, and Javi Venta is out as well.
- Keepers: Juan Carlos y Diego Mariño.
- Defenders: Mario, Jaume Costa, Joan Oriol, Musacchio y Dorado.
- Midfielders: Marcos Senna, Bruno, Tito Canteros, Trigueros, Aquino, Juanma, Cani y Moi Gómez.
- Strikers: Jonathan Pereira, Uche, Gerard Moreno y Perbet.
After the impressive drubbing of Mirandés, does Marcelino go with the same lineup this time? My sense is that the longer Numancia can hold us scoreless, the more comfortable they'll becomes just sitting back and picking up a point. I'd like to see Perbet and Gerard start again, and it's hard to argue with Cani, Bruno, and Aquino in midfield. The fourth midfielder....with Farinos out, does Canteros start again, or does Senna? Or do we go for more offense and bring back Moi or Manu Trigueros?
As for the back four, clearly Chechu Dorado and Musacchio are the central pairing, and Mario Gaspar will start on one wing. I suppose Joan Oriol would be my pick on the other side.
The match starts at 11AM eastern time (8AM Pacific, I guess I need to remember, now that I'm in California). Hopefully there will be some streams available.
Endavant Villarreal! Siempre Endavant!!