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Villarreal-Ponferradina Copa del Rey PREVIEW

Will we be able to overturn our 1-0 deficit from the first leg?

Girona v Villarreal - La Liga
Calleja figures to be doing a lot of this—encouraging attack and goals.
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Javi Calleja’s team for the match against Ponferradina is as follows:

  • Keepers: Barbosa and Asenjo.
  • Defenders: Mario Gaspar, Rukavina, Jaume Costa, Víctor Ruiz and Pau (dorsal 30).
  • Midfielders: Rodrigo, Trigueros, Fornals, Soriano, Raba (dorsal 28) and Chuca (dorsal 33).
  • Strikers: Bacca, Bakambu and Sansone.

Denis Cheryshev is missing because although he recovered from his muscle injury, he injured an ankle in practice and is out 2-3 weeks. He’s threatening to become our next Chechu Dorado—made of glass and often injured.

Álvaro Gonzalez and Adrián Marín are not included because they’ll be needed against Leganes, with Ruiz and Jaume Costa suspended.

Dare we hope to see Sergio Asenjo in goal for this one? I think we might.

Ponferradina have lost their last three matches, including a 4-1 pounding by Rápido Bouzas on Saturday, so on paper, you’d have to expect Villarreal to win by two or three clear goals. However, this is the Copa del Rey, and our record in this competition has generally been horrible.

Add to that the general lack of interest in this competition—it’s not exactly going to be a full house at the Ceramica—and our need to concentrate on the league and Europe. From the team call, though, it’s clear that we’re taking this a little more seriously than we did the first leg.

The key is going to be how long it takes us to get the first goal—the longer Ponfe stick around, the more confidence they’ll have, and the more nervous Villarreal will be. If Villarreal hasn’t scored by halftime, we could well be going out.

As a Primera side, we’ve been eliminated in the round of 32 twice: once by Poli Ejido, 6-1 in 2008-09, and 3-1 by Mirandés in 2011-12. We’ll hope there’s no third time tomorrow.

Prediction: As we saw on Sunday, Villarreal can still find creative ways to snatch defeat from victory, and our defense is definitely a work in progress.

I’m torn between Villarreal to win on the night 2-1, aggregate 2-2, or win 3-1 and progress. I’ll go for the latter, but it could be a near-run thing.