Villarreal welcome the “Pucela”, Real Valladolid, to the Ceramica tomorrow; it will be yet another hot (upper 80’s Fahrenheit) and muggy afternoon in Vila-real. Why the match couldn’t be moved to the early evening is beyond me.
Real Valladolid were promoted back to the Primera last season, and are playing their 41st season in the Primera; their top finish was fourth, in 1962-63. In recent years when they’ve been in the first division they have finished in the bottom half. However, there’s great excitement around with the purchase of a majority of their shares by Ronaldo. Not sure if he can translate his on-field magic into off-field skill, but people are certainly excited about his arrival.
Sergio Gonzalez is the Valladolid manager; he played for Espanyol, Depor, and the Catalan national side, and managed Espanyol briefly, but this is his first coaching gig since 2015. Like most teams arriving in the Primera, Valladolid have spent little: €2m total, while going for loans as much as possible. Villarreal have provided two players, Enes Ünal, who can’t play tomorrow, and Leo Suarez, who can. Duje Čop, ex of Malaga and Sporting, has come over from Standard Liege, and Ivi López is on loan from Levante.
Ex-Villarreal B (and Villarreal, now and then) defender Kiko Olivas is a regular starter at centerback for the Pucela, and ex-Barca man Jordi Masip has been their starting keeper so far.
Their team is : Masip, Yoel, Antoñito, Calero, Kiko Olivas, Moi, Moyano, Nacho, Anuar, Borja, Ivi, Keko, Leo Suárez, Míchel, Alcaraz, Toni, Duje Cop, Miguel.
They will miss Oscar Plaño, out three weeks with an injury, but they do get Keko and Ivi back.
Villarreal’s team: Again, Calleja leaves out Barbosa, Bonera, Llambrich and Morlanes, and Javi Fuego, Bruno and Caceres are still out. So we have S. Asenjo; Mario Gaspar; Álvaro; Funes Mori; Víctor Ruiz; Gerard; Fornals; Bacca; Sansone; J. Costa; Andrés Fernandez; M. Trigueros; Pedraza; Toko Ekambi; S. Cazorla; Iturra; Raba; M. Layún
All-time record: We haven’t played Valladolid that many times, actually, but we have been very successful at home, not very successful on the road. In the Primera, we are 7-1-1 in Vila-real, though we last met in August 2013; we won 2-1 with goals from Gio dos Santos and Cani, and Antonio Rukavina played for the losers then and Diego Mariño was their keeper. Valladolid’s only win here was in November 2008.
Prediction: I’m feeling better after Wednesday, obviously, but I’m not yet convinced how we’ll do against a team that wants to sit back and defend more than Athletic Club in San Mamés. I’ll predict 1-1, but I’m hopeful that is overly pessimistic. Endavant!!!!