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Preview: Villarreal travel to Real Valladolid

The Pucela have been struggling this season--most observers thought they would consolidate their position somewhere in the middle of the league table, but it hasn't happened. Villarreal need to keep them down a little longer.

Manuel Queimadelos Alonso

Villarreal play at Real Valladolid tomorrow, in a match that may decide the future of their coach JIM (Juan Ignacio Martinez).  He did an excellent job at Levante, and expectations were he would do even better at Valladolid with a roster including players such as Patrick Ebert, Javi Guerra, and Marc Valiente.  But Valladolid are lying in the relegation zone, and after losses to Granada and Athletic Bilbao (4-2, 4-0, both on the road) word is he may lose his job unless the Pucela win tomorrow.

Valladolid's home form has been mediocre, with 10 points from 9 matches, 11 goals scored, 11 allowed--but at least they've only lost three of the nine.  Their last home matches were a 1-0 loss to Osasuna, two 0-0 draws (Rayo in the Copa, Betis in the league) and sandwiched between those, a 3-0 thumping of Celta.

Villarreal, meanwhile, has played quite well on the road.  Apart from the top three, they're the only team in La Liga that's scored more goals than their opponents on the road (16 scored, 9 allowed in 9 matches) and the only team with as many as 5 away wins.

When the clubs met in El Madrigal back in August, Javi Guerra gave them a fourth-minute lead, but Gio converted a penalty shortly before halftime and Cani scored the winner with under 10 minutes to go.  We were slightly lucky to take all three points, though we certainly dominated the stat sheet.

Our stars that day were Cani, Bruno and Aquino; theirs were Valiente, Burgdich and Guerra.  Both Cani and Valiente are out of this match with injuries, and Valladolid will also be without Alcatraz (who conceded the penalty Gio converted in the first game), Lluis Sastre and Humberto Osorio.   The Submarine will also miss Iniguez and Pantic.

Predicted lineups: Before I heard Marcelino was talking about changes, I expected only one from the Almeria match: Pina in, Trigueros out.  I'm still going with that one, but maybe Gabriel for Dorado also.  I just don't see benching Uche or Moi right now, especially since Hernan and Aquino together has not worked well. So:

Asenjo; Mario, Gabriel, Musacchio, Jaume Costa; Bruno, Pina; Aquino, Moi; Gio, Uche.

Valladolid should go with Mariño; Rukavina, Pena, Bergdich and someone else (newly acquired Serbian Mitrovic, perhaps?) in the back; Fausto Rossi, Alvaro Rubio, and Valdet Rama; Ebert, Guerra and someone else, not sure whom, up front.

Predicted scoreline:  In the podcast Sid went for 1-1, I went for 1-2 to us.   We expect it will be tight and close--no 5-1 match here.

Trivia: Both goalkeepers will be playing against the teams that originally developed them.  In fact, Asenjo's debut with Valladolid was a 2-0 victory against us, with the goals scored by Joseba Llorente and Victor, two other players who played for both teams!  And of course we hold a purchase option on both Mariño and Asenjo.

TV: Beinsport Spanish will have the match in the US, and there should be streams available as well.  Sid will run the gamethread, we encourage you to comment and tweet as you will.  ENDAVANT VILLARREAL!