Villarreal have gained lots of praise for their play thus far, but at some point the "good sensations" have to be translated into success in the league table. Yes, it's early, and two of our first six matches came against the big two, but our neighbors to the south have begun the season very well, as have Sevilla. If we truly have a team that can challenge for the Champions League, we need to win games like this one.
Our opponents: Celta Vigo come in having won three and drawn three so far. Wins at home against Getafe and Depor with a draw against Real Sociedad thrown in, while on the road they drew 2-2 with Atleti, defeated Elche, and drew against Cordoba, which I suppose is really their only disappointing result so far from their point of view.
Celta are reminiscent of Rayo in temperament, but with more talent and a bit more strategic nous; that said, they have not done a good job holding on to leads this season. They play a 4-3-3, and their star players are Joaquin Larrivey, in the middle of the top 3, and Fabian Orellana, on the right. Michael Krohn-Dehli is an excellent midfielder on the right side, too. Charles hasn't been seeing much action for them, but he is available off the bench to lead the line.
Augustin Fernandez and Borja Oubiña are out, and at least we don't have to worry--yet--about goalkeeper Joel, who stymied us last year--he's been loaned to Valencia.
Villarreal: Yet another injury, yet another defender out after Thursday's match.
Our 18 for the trip are:
- Asenjo and Juan Carlos.
- Mario, Adrián Marín, Gabriel, Dorado, Víctor Ruiz
- Trigueros, Bruno, Jonathan dos Santos, Cheryshev, Espinosa, Moi Gómez and Cani.
- Uche, Giovani, Gerard and Vietto.
Adrian Marin continues to remind me of Tom Lehrer's line about precocious talent, "By the time Mozart was my age, he was dead". At seventeen, Marin has a confidence and an ability that is amazing. That said, Celta at home is a different kettle of seafood than Apollon Limassol on the road--if Dorado is able to start, I'd go with him and Ruiz in the middle of defense, Gabriel and Mario on the sides. Otherwise, it's Marin at left back, Gabriel and Ruiz as center backs, and Mario on the right.
Further evidence that Tomas Pina has fallen down the pecking order, as he is left out for this match too. My preferred lineup is:
Asenjo; Mario, Ruiz, Dorado, Gabriel; Espinosa, Trigueros, Bruno, Cheryshev; Gio and Uche.
I will not be surprised if Jonathan dos Santos or Moi force their way in, though.
Prediction: Celta Vigo is my surprise pick to make it to Europe this season. And we have never won at Balaidos (though admittedly we haven't played there too many times, since Celta spent six years in the Segunda while we were in the Primera, and were promoted the same season we were relegated. But even when we defeated Celta 5-0 at home, we lost to them away 3-1 the same season....not good omens.
We have already drawn at two grounds where we've never won--Granada and Eibar--so let's make it three and I'll go for a 2-2 draw. I want more though!!
The match begins at 11AM Eastern in the US and will be on the beinSport second channel. Streams should be widely available as well.
Marcelino has not yet rejoined the club, so Ruben Urîa will be in charge again. It would be nice to win this one for Marce, too. Endavant!