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Derby Time : Villarreal visit Mestalla to take on Valencia

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We need Giovani to bring his scoring boots for this one.
We need Giovani to bring his scoring boots for this one.

Roughly 60km separate El Madrigal and Mestalla.

Exactly 9 points separate Valencia and Villarreal with 10 matches left in the season.

No one knows exactly how many more millions in debt Valencia is in compared to Villarreal.

And if you take a look at saturday's Super Deporte, Villarreal apparently dont have a chance of going to Turin (venue of the final of this year's Europa League)

We have to move past last week's disappointment. As deflating as the draw seemed, there were a few positives. The return of Cani to the starting line-up is probably the biggest of them.

Return of Cani

Cani looked good and seemed to play within himself, understandable after such a long injury layoff. His return to the lineup should open the game for Giovani Dos Santos more than it was in the past month or so. With Oliver Torres likely to start again, offensively we look close to our full strength. That Philippe Senderos is hailed as savior of sorts underlines how inconsistent and bad they have been all season.

Back Problems

While our front 4 seems ok, our back four is a cause for concern. With the non-availability of Gabriel Paulista it looks like it is going to be Dorado-Musacchio in the heart of the defence. We could do a lot worse than this pairing but Dorado is made of fine bone china. Our most dependable and consistent starter in the back, Mario Gaspart will miss his first La Liga minutes due to a small injury. Amazing to know that he played all the minutes of all the 28 matches so far. I expect Pantic to play at RB.

Opponent and Tactics

This is a derby game. This is the last chance for Valencia to catch us for the Europa League spot. There is no doubt they will come out flying with a lot of energy. The crowd will be behind them (at least until the first signs that we are up for the fight). We need to be prepared and ready for an intense beginning and be able to withstand a lot of pressure.

Dani Parejo, Paco Alcacer, Eduardo Vargas, Jonas & Co can be very dangerous if you give them time and space on the ball. Like us, their weakest link is their defense. Senderos, probably one of their best defenders since they got him in the January transfer window, is out for this match.

I expect this to be a very open game in the first half. If we keep the score level or even get ahead by halftime, we will have a good chance to win the match. Our recent trips to Mestalla havent been good memories but we have won there in the past.

Squads and Lineups

Valencia 18

Alves, Guaita, Joao, Barragán, Víctor Ruiz, Vezo, Mathieu, Bernat, Keita, Javi Fuego, Oriol, Parejo, Fede, Michel,

Vinícius, Jonas, Vargas, Alcácer

Villarreal 18

Porteros: Asenjo y Juan Carlos, Musacchio, Jaume Costa, Dorado, Jokic y Pantic, Bruno, Cani, Trigueros,

Óliver Torres,Aquino, Tomás Pina y Moi Gómez, Giovani, Uche, Perbet y Jonathan Pereira

Valencia likely XI - 4-2-3-1

Alves:Joao Pereira - Ruiz - Mathieu - Bernat; Parejo - Keita ; Vargas - Alcacer - Fede - Jonas

Villarreal likely XI 4-4-2

Asenjo; Pantic - Dorado - Musacchio - Costa ; Oliver - Bruno - Pina - Cani ; Gio - Uche

Preview Podcast

Conclusion

3 points in this match would lockup the Europa League spot for us. It will be a very difficult match as the opponent will be desperate and we will have to match their intensity and play intelligently.

Endavant Villarreal!