We are not the most important match Athletic Club has this week. They have a second leg against Granada for a place in the Copa Del Rey final, and winning the Copa Del Rey is more important to this club than where exactly the finish in La Liga, especially in a season like this one where they are sitting mid table. They have a one goal lead heading to Granada, and at least part of the focus of the players and manager will be on that match.
All of this means that there are no excuses if we do not pick up a result. This is almost always the case for Villarreal as we have one of the most talented sides in La Liga, but entering a stretch where five matches in a row are against teams below us in the table, and sitting four points outside of Europe, it’s now or never to make our move and get back where we belong.
‘No excuses’ is my motto the rest of the year. The back line is finally healthy, we have an relatively easy run of opponents, it’s time for this side and its manager to prove their competency by taking care of business. A trip to the San Mames is never easy, but we have the talent to make it work and frankly give our current place in the table we have no choice but to make it work. I believe we can do it, you should to. The only question is whether we will step up and perform when it matters most.
In an interesting wrinkle, both clubs are starting entirely Spanish starting XIs today:
#AthleticVillarreal | Here is our starting XI to face @Athletic_en at San Mamés! Once more, there are 11 Spaniards in our lineup! pic.twitter.com/hhxp8JbyqW— Villarreal CF English (@Eng_Villarreal) March 1, 2020
Seeing Ontiveros in the starting XI is a little bit of a surprise but otherwise no huge shocks for us today. Alberto is back for another round after coming out of the Atleti match unscathed injury wise.
LINE-UP I This is the starting 1⃣1⃣ chosen by Gaizka Garitano to face @Eng_Villarreal at San Mamés ⚽— Athletic Club (@Athletic_en) March 1, 2020
Time to win, lions!!#AthleticVillarreal #AthleticClub pic.twitter.com/A9OcD5h7oU
The curiosity in this selection is Inaki Williams being left on the bench. It probably has something to do with the Copa Del Rey match this Thursday, as the only other time this entire La Liga season he did not start was the loss to Real Sociedad that took place just before their first leg with Granada. He came on in the 55’ in that one and scored a goal, so expect him to appear at some point and expect his fresh legs to challenge our left flank.
I won’t be around much for this one as I’m working this morning, so you guys hold down the fort for me. Endavant!