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Zaragoza-Villarreal friendly: preview and gamethread

Villarreal's last friendly before heading off to Astana and the Europa League playoff.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno

Villarreal visit Real Zaragoza for our final friendly of the close season.  Expect to see significant playing time for some of the Submarine players who haven't featured much in the other matches--that means Victor Ruiz, for sure, and Moi Gomez if he is healthy.

And I guess he must be, because here is our starting lineup:

Asenjo; Mario, Musacchio, Víctor Ruiz, Jokic; Bruno, Pina, Cani, Moi; Vietto y Gerard Moreno

The second striker group gets the start, Moi gets a start; Bruno and Pina, first choice pivote pairing; Mario returns at right back from injury, and Jokic gets to start rather than Costa. And Cani gets a start in his old home ground.

Musacchio of course only played in the Ceramica Trophy, so this is a good chance for Ruiz to work together with him.

Zaragoza: I honestly don't know much about this year's edition of Los Maños.  They spent last year in the Segunda after being relegated, and have severe money troubles.  (I can't think of Zaragoza without thinking of their completely undeserved 2-1 win at home over us in 2011-12 thanks to two late goals--their fans were almost too busy demonstrating against their board at the time to notice).

Their lineup: Whalley; Fernández, Vallejo, Cabrera, Rico; Paglialunga, Ruiz de Galarreta; Álamo, Adán Pérez, Pedro y Muñoz.

Historically, Zaragoza is a Primera team--if you've only started following SPanish football in the last 4-5 years, you'd be forgiven for not realizing that.  They won the Fairs Cup (predecessor of the UEFA Cup and Europa LEague) in the 1960s, and the Cup Winners Cup against Arsenal in 1995 with a last-second goal from the halfway line; they've won the Copa del Rey 6 times.

Since 1956 they have been relegated five times to the Segunda; last year was the first time they didn't immediately bounce back.  And to be fair, they were never close, finishing 14th.

Villarreal connections: Plenty.  For a start, their coach, Victor Muñoz--he coached at Villarreal in the 2000-01 and 2001-02 seasons (we finished 7th in that first year, 15th the second).  And then there is Rubén Gracia Calmache--the magnificent Cani.  A native of Zaragoza, he played 6 years for their second and first teams before joining Villarreal in 2006 for €11 million.

More recently, we took Jorge Orti on loan last season for our B team; he is now back at Zaragoza.  And Lucas Porcar, who played for both Espanyol's B team and ours, is--I think-- still on their books.  He was loaned first to Xerez and then to a Belgian side, and is under contract until June 2015 I believe.

And of course there was the Roberto Ayala affair--Villarreal signed the Mouse from Valencia, who didn't renew his contract, in May 2007, but only had an €8m release clause.  Zaragoza signed him for this amount in July, and he played 2 and 1/2 seasons for them before being released and returning to Argentina.  The kicker is Ayala is still, as far as I know, owed wages from his time at the Romereda--his name showed up among the creditors when Zaragoza filed bankruptcy in 2011, and I don't believe those have been paid since.

Streams: Aragon's regional TV is broadcasting this--at least I think they will be, at the moment they are showing two guys dressed in white and wearing sneakers jumping over a charging bull (I kid you not).   However, since I see a promo for the match in the corner of the screen, I expect it will be on.  Enjoy and ENDAVANT VILLARREAL!