Villarreal welcome the boquerones of Malaga to El Madrigal, where historically Villarreal have done pretty well against this side. If we throw out an Intertoto Club result and focus only on the league, Villarreal are 6-3-3 against Malaga. Last loss was in the 2008-09 season; biggest win was 3-0 (2004-05).
Malaga include ex-Villarreal man Ike Uche in their side; he's on loan from Tigres. Their team is: Kameni, Albentosa, Weligton, Camacho, Uche, Charles, Horta, Tissone, Ochoa, Duda, Rosales, Boka, Cop, Filipenko, Miguel Torres, Santa Cruz, Juanpi and Pablo.
Javi Gracia has done a good job with these guys--their defense is very good (only 20 goals allowed, two more than us and fourth in the league) but they have scored only 21 goals, and only 7 on the road (21 goals is tied for 16th; 7 away goals are 19th). They will miss Recio (suspended) and Atsu (injured) but are going to be tough to handle even so.
Villarreal have 5 wins in their last 6 home matches, only drawing to Betis. Their defense has been rock-solid at home, though if Mateo Musacchio is unable to go--and we don't know yet for sure--that could be a problem as Bailly and Bonera are injured and suspended respectively.
Tomas Pina comes back into the squad, but I expect as long as Musacchio can go we'll see Marcelino's usual XI. We do play Napoli on Thursday, but I can't see leaving anyone out just for that. And evidently one of Soldado's yellows was overturned somewhere, because I had him with 10--but he's in the team.
This figures to be a tight match, but I am feeling the positive vibes from Robin and am going to go for a 2-0 home win.