Paco Alcacer strained a muscle during training leading in to tomorrow’s huge matchup against Real Madrid. Given the wide swath of injuries and illnesses Real Madrid is facing, this match was shaping up to be a great opportunity for Villarreal. Without Alcacer, the tactical options for Villarreal get messy.
If he brings on Bacca as a straight swap, he loses what mobility Paco does bring to bear. Bacca’s been very good against Europa League opposition, at his age being able to perform that way against Real Madrid is a different proposition. Plus, as good a finisher as Bacca is, Paco’s been on an absolute tear.
What is probably more likely is Samu Chukwueze stepping in on the right flank and Gerard getting pushed central. We’ve all seen the issues that occur defensively when Samu is above Mario on the right flank, and if Eden Hazard ends up being the left winger for Madrid tomorrow, that will only be compounded. In addition, Samu is not as secure with the ball as Gerard, and does not provide the same link up play. (The issues are similar if Kubo starts, he loses possession often, and has not consistently shown the positional discipline we would need to maintain a press against opposition like Madrid.)
Hopefully, Paco simply has a knock and it is nothing serious. If he does miss this match, we will desperately need him next week when we face Real Sociedad. Things change fast in the world of football health nowadays. What predicted lineups are before the very last training before a match can be completely blown apart with one soft muscle injury. Get well soon, Paco.
UPDATE: Hopefully this Twitter post from Paco means we have nothing to worry about: