Villarreal host Malaga at the Ceramics Stadium in another Sunday early kickoff, needing a win both to stay ahead of their pursuers for European spots, but also to build confidence ahead of a difficult period in the schedule.
Malaga seem ripe for the taking: they haven’t won since November, though they did play Real Madrid tough in the Bernabeu a couple of weeks ago. Coach Romero is still seeking his first win. They don’t score any more than we do (28 goals in 21 matches, tied for 11th among the 20 La Liga clubs) but have given up 35 goals, fifth worst. They recently signed 36 year-old Martin Demichelis on a free to maybe help out.
They are missing leading scorer Sandro, out with a thigh muscle problem for another few weeks (seven goals in 17 matches), so look for young Uruguayan Michael Santos to play up top in their 4-2-3-1. Keep an eye too on Pablo Fornals, who started in Villarreal’s youth system at age 7, then went to Castellon at age 12, and joined Malaga’s cantera at age 16. Turning 21 later this month, he is one of their brighter talents.
Villarreal are back—almost—to full strength. Only Roberto Soldado, who should be back soon, is missing. So probably we play a 4-4-2 with Sansone and Bakambu (or Adrián), and Roberto Soriano and Jona dos Santos on the wings. We could see Mateo Musacchio start in defense, too.
Prediction: Hoping we can come out here with some sort of statement game ahead of Roma’s visit in midweek, so Villarreal 3-0 Malaga. Hey, if you don’t ask, you don’t get, right? Vamos Submarino, Endavant Villarreal!!