After a big comeback win at Almería, Villarreal entertain Diego Mariño and Valladolid in their home opener of the La Liga season. It is no surprise that there is a lot of excitement surrounding this game. With about 19000 season ticket holders, El Madrigal should be brimming with groguets despite the 11pm kick-off.
How crazy and dedicated are the Villareal faithful? Here is an example.
José Luis Perez is running/walking 130+ kilometers (80+ miles) to El Madrigal from Piles to the game. He started Friday evening and is expected to make it in time for the pre-game. He is doing this because he vowed to do this if Villarreal got promoted. Villarreal TV is covering the run, so expect to see a feature on this in the next week's Insider edition. Follow him on twitter to see pictures and updates of his whereabouts. Apparently he tweets while he is walking or talking a rest.
Valladolid is coming into this after a tough home loss to Athletic. But the worse news for Valladolid is that Patrick Ebert, their best player and the fulcrum of their attack is not making the trip. This is a very big loss for Valladolid as Ebert was one of the premier players of La Liga last season and they dont have a replacement for him. That said, Valladolid is managed by JIM(Juan Ignacio Martinez) who knows a thing or two about getting points vs. Villarreal from his time at Levante.
Without Ebert, I expect JIM to set his team up very compactly and try to beat us on the counter with Manucho and Javi Guerra. At home they dominated possession (60-40) vs. Athletic but part of it could be due to the fact they were trailing in the game for the most part.Alvaro Rubio with 82 touches on the ball with was their most active player in midfield and further in the last game.
We know Mariño is quality in the goal but in Rukavina and Marc Valiente (one of our early transfer targets) have stable backline. This is likely to be one of those games where we have a lot of ball and probably not a lot of clear-cut chances.
A point will be a great result for the Pucelanos because in 8 visits to El Madrigal in Primera, Valladolid has a win, a draw and six losses.
Villarreal tactics and starting XI dilemma
In Almería, Villarreal set out to beat the opponent on pace early on with speed on the wings with a vertical style. Almería was able to counter it after the first 5 minutes or so and dominated most of the rest of the 1st half. Marcelino changed the point of attack in the 2nd half with quick subs around the 60th minute bringing in Manu Trigueros, Javier Aquino and Jony Pereira.
Now the question is whether to stick to the plan that didnt work in Almería(Uche or Perbet up front with Pina & Hernán starting) or switch to what worked in the 2nd half in Almería (Aquino Jony and Trigueros). We discussed this at length in the podcast. Preview starts around the 20th min
Since this is a home game plus the fact that Valladolid wont have their most creative player, it might be a better option to go for the kill by scoring early. That said, it isnt really a plan if you abandon it at the first hint of an obstacle. So it will be interesting to see the lineup Marcelino goes for. Individual match-ups might dictate the choices for Marcelino.
Mariño, Jaime, Rukavina, Alcatraz, Heinz, Jesús Rueda, Marc Valiente, Bergdich, Peña, Álvaro Rubio, Sastre, Baraja, Óscar, Omar, Rama, Manucho, Javi Guerra y Osorio.
Juan Carlos, Asenjo, Mario, Pantic, Jaume Costa, Musacchio, Pablo Íñiguez Chechu Dorado, Bruno, Pina, Trigueros, Hernán Pérez, Aquino, Cani, Giovani dos Santos, Uche, Jonathan Pereira and Jeremy Perbet.
Projected Starting XIs
This wont be an easy one. I predict a tough 2-1 home win.