Villarreal begin their 2016-17 Copa del Rey with a match in Castilla-La Mancha against Segunda B side CD Toledo, at their little Salto del Caballo ground.
Toledo are currently third in their Segunda B group, though they are coming off a 6-0 home loss to group leaders Albacete. This is not the first visit to Toledo for Villarreal: the two clubs were both in the Segunda from 1993 to 2000. Our record in Toledo, for what it’s worth, is 2-0-4, with the last match there a 3-1 Villarreal win, in April 2000.
If you’ve been following Villarreal for very long, you know that our record in this competition has generally been woeful. Even though we’ve often entered the competition at the round of 32 stage, we have had some famous losses to minnows (Poli Ejido, step forward), and our all-time best record is a semifinal appearance two seasons ago, when we lost to Barcelona.
After our recent struggles against inferior opposition, this tie—and this away leg—is perhaps more important than usual, because questions are starting to be asked as to whether Escribá is the right man for the job.
That’s reflected to some degree in our team selection—I was half-expecting us to call up a few B teamers like Cantalapiedra, Edgar Ié, or one of the Carlitos—but in fact we went with 16 first-teamers.
Villarreal’s starting lineup is (4-4-2, evidently):
Barbosa; Rukavina, Alvaro, Bonera, José Ángel; Jona, Rodrigo, Trigueros, Chery; Santos Borré and Bakambu.
Toledo: Manolo; Exposito, Toni Sanchez, Echaide, Adrian; Israel Castro, Owusu, De Lerma, Roberto; Pablo Gonzalez, Jordan.
TV: None in the US; beinSport is showing it in Spain apparently. Radio Vila-Real is of course broadcasting from the ground.
Prediction: I honestly have no idea. Our record in the away leg of this round the last few years: 2013 drew 2-2 at Elche; 2014 won 2-1 at Cadiz; 2015 lost 3-2 at Huesca. (We won all three home legs).