Villarreal’s travelling party are in Glasgow, preparing for tomorrow’s Europa League group stage match against Rangers. (The team arrived later than planned due to an electrical fault on their plane that delayed their departure). The Submarine can go through to the round of 32 with a win at Ibrox; lose or draw and they have to defeat Spartak on the final matchday to go through.
The team call is similar to that on Sunday (except that Alvaro is eligible to play while Iturra is not)—in other words, no Raba, Layún or Javi Fuego. (if Layún isn’t included to play against Barcelona, then I’m going to be wondering what is going on). Miguelon and Victor Ruiz haven’t made the trip, either.
Keepers: Asenjo, Andrés and Barbosa.
Defenders: Mario, Jaume Costa, Pedraza, Álvaro, Bonera and Funes Mori.
Midfielders: Cáseres, Fornals, Trigueros, Cazorla, Morlanes and Chukwueze.
Strikers: Gerard Moreno, Toko Ekambi, Bacca and Sansone.
Keep in mind that one of the three keepers will be dropped: we take three in case one is injured in the warmup the day before, we can still name two for the match.
Rangers: Various financial irregularities and bankruptcies resulted in Rangers, one-half of the “Old Firm” that has historically dominated Scottish football, having to accept playing in the fourth division of Scottish football in 2012. They eventually made it to the Premiership and finished third last season. So far this year, they are going very well, currently lying in second place, two points behind arch-rival Celtic.
Because of the importance of Scotland in the history of the sport, and Rangers’ importance in Scotland historically, this match is really quite a big deal (oh yeah, there’s the Stevie G factor, too—Steven Gerrard took over as manager and between good results and being Stevie G, the media attention has grown further). There won’t be many Villarreal fans there for sure, but Ibrox is sold out.
All-time record: Villarreal and Rangers have met three times, and all ended in draws. In addition to the 2-2 draw at the Ceramica earlier this year, Rangers and Villarreal met in the round of 16 of the 2005-06 Champions League. After a 2-2 draw in Glasgow, Villarreal went through on away goals with a 1-1 draw at home. Our current coach Calleja was on the bench for those matches, coming on late in the second one.
Prediction: 2-2 seems to be our lot where Gers are concerned, I’ll go with that.