According to Javi Mata, the back four practicing with the first team side in training today for Villarreal was Estupinan, Pau Torres, Ramiro Funes Mori, and Mario Gaspar. Raul Albiol trained on the side. If this ends up being the starting back four against Barcelona, we are in for a wild adventure this Sunday.
Sessió de treball de l’equip d’aquest dijous:— Javi Mata (@javimatagil) September 24, 2020
✔️ Albiol segueix treballant a part
✔️Emery ha ficat una parella amb Funes Mori (central dret) i Pau Torres
✔️una defensa era la formada per: Mario-Funes-Pau-Estupiñán
Raul Albiol is dealing with damage to his nose following Villarreal’s collision with Eibar last weekend. It’s certainly possible that Emery is simply being cautious with the veteran defender, after all he and Pau have worked together enough to understand each other even after missing a few days of training- but with such a dangerous opponent in the form of Lionel Messi coming at our back line this week, it seems like Unai is preparing for 90 minutes of Funes Mori.
In La Liga matches that Funes Mori started last season, we took 10 points out of a possible 15, with the dropped points coming from a loss to Sevilla and a draw against Valladolid. He makes me nervous back there, and I question the caliber of his decision making quite often, but he’s not a terrible player. That said, playing against Levante, Osasuna, and Alaves (the teams we beat with him starting last year) is not nearly the same thing as facing even a beleaguered Barcelona, such as they are.
On the positive front, I’m excited to see Estupinan make his full debut, and I think the balance he brings to our attack will be greatly needed against a team in Barcelona who has major questions at right back. Hopefully Albiol will be well by Sunday, but if he’s not it just underscores the fact that the team still needs at least one more CB.