Villarreal heads into the Spanish capital without several of their attacking options available. No Gerard, no Chukwueze... we are really going to have to piece this thing together. So here is the lineup Unai went with:
I cannot for the life of me understand Unai’s obsession with Geronimo Rulli. Like, for sentimental reasons, I like the guy and probably always will, but he’s a really dodgy goalkeeper and I don’t want to have to rely on him all season. Somewhat bizarrely, Alberto gets the start at left back, but with Manchester United coming up in the midweek we knew Emery was likely to do something bizarre today. All through the Europa League run last season I never could accurately pin down his rotation strategy.
It’s really good to see Yeremi starting. It had been rumored that he would not be available for this match, but his inclusion should give us some much needed balance across from Danjuma in attack. Paco is once again preferred to Dia, and I honestly can’t tell right now if that’s because Emery would rather have Paco on the pitch or if he’s just planning on using Dia versus United. No Trigueros on the pitch as Emery clearly doesn’t expect to dominate the ball. The midfield three he’s given us should have plenty of ball recovery to start counter-attacks.
We’re facing Fede Valverde at right back, and I have no idea what that’s going to look like. Eden Hazard remains on the bench and Asensio starts after bagging a hat trick against Mallorca. The back line here is a bit odd from Ancelotti, and I think we have something like a 4231 in formation?
Both managers have gone a rather experimental in various phases, and I think this matchup could prove to be rather tactical. We are by no means favored, but it should be interesting, nonetheless.