Villarreal face SK Slavia Prague at their Eden Arena on Thursday, in the return leg of their back-to-back series as part of the Europa League group stage.
It has been a rather more difficult start to the season in Europe for Spanish clubs than usual; Barca and Real Madrid are doing okay in the Champions, but Atleti and Sevilla are not; while in the Europa League, only Real Sociedad look to be comfortable. Athletic Bilbao pretty much have to win out (unlikely) to advance from the group phase, while Villarreal are one of three teams fighting to make it out from their group.
Maccabi Tel Aviv could help our cause by defeating Astana on Thursday, but Villarreal really needs to help itself with a win (ideally) or at least a draw in Prague.
Villarreal team news: The Yellow Submarine travel to Prague in pretty good shape. Enes Unal has been loaned to Levante so isn’t part of the team, while Jaume Costa will miss out due to a groin injury. Adrian Marin might take his place at left back, unless Rukavina does.
Our squad is:
Goalkeepers: Barbosa, Cantero and Diego Fuoli (number 36).
Defenders: Mario Gaspar, Rukavina, Adrián Marín, Álvaro, Víctor Ruiz, Bonera and Pau (number 30).
Midfielders: Trigueros, Rodrigo, Soriano, Samu Castillejo, Fornals, Cheryshev and Chuca (number 33).
Strikers: Bacca, Bakambu and Sansone.
Note that two of these will be dropped, a keeper and one other. I’m guessing Pau or Bonera?
Expect Manu Trigueros and Adrián Gonzalez, who are both suspended for the next La Liga match, to start this one; I’d think we go with Barbosa; Rukavina-Ruiz-Adrian-Adrian Marin; Rodri; Soriano, Fornals, Trigueros; Bakambu and Sansone.
Though we could use Bacca and Cheryshev instead of Sansone and Soriano, I suppose. We’d still have Same Castillejo available from the bench, too. Note that Ramiro is not included.
Slavia Prague: As far as I know, they don’t have any significant injuries. They lost at home to Slovan Liberec, 2-1, the Sunday after playing us at the Ceramica, but have won a Czech cup match and a league game since.
Prediction: I’ll say a 1-1 draw, but I’m hoping for a Villarreal win here. Anything Maccabi can take from Astana would be helpful, too....