VIllarreal are attempting to reach the semifinals of the Copa del Rey for only the second time ever—they defeated Getafe at this point in 2015, while last year we went down to second-division Mirandés, a major stumble that was a big factor in Sr. Roig and the Villarreal directors deciding to move on from Javi Calleja as coach and holding secret negotiations with Unai Emery.
Well, Emery is here now, but this is not going to be an easy passage for the Submarine to the semis. Levante always play well against Villarreal, and coach Paco López’s team is now comfortably mid-table and coming off a big win against Real Madrid on the weekend.
Roger (Martí, 9 league goals) and “El Commandante”, José Luis Morales (8) are the big scorers, but make no mistake, this is a well-coached team that is better than the sum of its parts, and the parts are pretty good. Keep in mind this is a one-legged tie, no replays; if we’re tied after regulation, we go to 30 minutes of extra time and if still no winner, penalties.
Copa History: These two have met in the Copa only once before (at least since Villarreal made it to the Primera), and it’ll always be remembered as the Martin Palermo match. It was 0-0 at the end of normal time, Palermo scored in the 98th minute and went to celebrate with Villarreal fans behind the goal, the concrete terrace he stood on gave way and two bones in his left leg were broken. Villarreal ended up having to play the rest of the way with 10 men, Levante equalized, and the Submarine won 4-3 on penalties.
The Levante ground is much changed (for the better) since then, and of course there won’t be any fans to celebrate goals with anyhow....
The teams are in. Levante are clearly looking to get through the first 60-70 minutes or so on even terms and then bring on the firepower. For Villarreal, the big news is Gerard in the call (on the bench), Foyth returns to the lineup, but we are now missing Capoue (and Yeremy, still).
Levante: Cardenas; Son, Toño Garcia, Radoja, Bardhi, Malsa, Ruben Vezo, Postigo, Rochina, Dani Gómez, Coke.
Bench: Aitor; Róber Pier, Duarte, Sergio León, Roger, Morales, Clerc, Miramón, Melero.
Villarreal: Rulli; Albiol, Pau, Parejo, Foyth, Trigueros, Paco Alcácer, Coquelin, Peña, Moi, Pedraza.
Bench: Asenjo; Funes Mori, Gerard, Bacca, Raba, Estupiñán, Jaume Costa, Álex Baena, Fer Niño.
Endavant Villarreal, a guanyar!!