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Primera División

  • January 3, 2011
  • • 19:00
  • • Camp El Madrigal, Villarreal
  • Referee: Javier Iglesias
  • • Attendance: 17500
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La Liga Preview: Villarreal - Almeria

La Liga Preview: Villarreal - Almeria

The Yellow Submarine are aiming to win their eighth home game in nine attempts when they face the Andalucians...

Ambitious

A storming start to the campaign has seen Villarreal emerge as Spain’s undoubted third force behind Barcelona and Real Madrid. Nevertheless, Juan Carlos Garrido’s men lie 10 and eight points respectively behind the two super powers. If catching up the top two is impossible, maintaining third spot and claiming the automatic Champions League berth that comes with it, is certainly a realistic goal.

Almeria are the next side that stand between the Yellow Submarine and the bronze medal position. Playing at El Madrigal has rarely been a problem for the east coast outfit, who have failed to win only two matches at the venue under Garrido, who took charge in the spring. The teams to frustrate Villarreal on their home surface have been Valencia and Barcelona, two teams to have progressed to the knockout stage of the Champions League.

“We must be very ambitious to maintain this level and fight for a title. We have grown stronger from last season, and the situation is even more positive now,” the coach explained to the media earlier this week. “The truth is that things are going very well, we have made a very good start and we are well positioned. Added to this is the fact that we are playing well, which makes us very happy.”

Villarreal are very much as side on the up after last season’s mediocre performance, though there is a danger that the one week lay-off might have disrupted their momentum. If the Yellow Submarine can perform to the standard they showed in the latter part of 2010, Monday’s match shouldn’t provide any worries.

Goals Galore

Almeria could not come into 2011 any closer to the Primera Division relegation zone. The Andalucian side are locked with Malaga on only 13 points from 16 games, above their regional neighbours only because of a superior goal difference.

Unsurprisingly, this poor start to the campaign as already accounted for coach Juan Manuel Lillo, whose last match in charge of his side was an 8-0 home humbling at the hands of Barcelona. Jose Luis Oltra, who suffered relegation from the top flight at the helm of Tenerife last season, has since taken charge.

Oltra has enjoyed limited success in charge of the Andalucian side to date. He has taken charge of four Primera Division matches, beating Sevilla impressively 3-1 away from home but failing to claim three points in any of his other encounters in the dugout. Almeria did, however, finish 2010 on a positive note, defeating Mallorca 4-3 in an exciting Copa del Rey encounter a matter of days before Christmas.

Like Oltra’s Tenerife outfit from last term, there is no lack of entertainment watching the Estadio del Mediterraneo side. Goals are flying in at both ends of the field. Prior to the new coach’s arrival, Almeria had scored two goals or more only twice in 12 league encounters, they’ve since achieved this feat in each of their last two matches.

Goals are no use without the results to accompany them, and it would be a huge achievement if Almeria were to take anything from the weekend’s match in Villarreal.


TEAM NEWS

Villarreal

Villarreal have suffered a couple of crucial blows over the Christmas break. Marcos Senna will miss much of January due to injury, while Nilmar is scheduled to be absent for a similar period.

Almeria


The Andalucians haven't registered any fresh problems over the festive period. Michel, Miguel Angel Nieto and Hernan Pellerano are still worries.

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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
13Diego López RodríguezGoalkeeper
-ÁngelDefender
2Gonzalo RodríguezDefender
15CataláDefender
11Joan CapdevilaDefender
21SorianoMidfielder
20Borja ValeroMidfielder
10CaniMidfielder
19Santi CazorlaMidfielder
49Giuseppe RossiStriker
-Marco RubenStriker
25Juan CarlosGoalkeeper
-KikoDefender
14Mario GasparDefender
-Joan OriolDefender
5MatillaMidfielder
9Jefferson Antonio MonteroMidfielder
17Jozy AltidoreStriker
1Diego AlvesGoalkeeper
3M. SilvaDefender
-Carlos GarcíaDefender
16MichelDefender
-Juanma OrtizMidfielder
25Hernán BernardelloMidfielder
19M'BamiMidfielder
8Albert CrusatMidfielder
15CoronaMidfielder
-Kalu UcheStriker
11Pablo PiattiStriker
-EstebanGoalkeeper
18Santi AcasieteDefender
36Henok GoitomStriker
-José OrtizMidfielder
-Michael JakobsenDefender
22Fabián Andrés VargasMidfielder
20L. UlloaStriker
Players to Watch
Santi Cazorla
Santi Cazorla
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 19
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
Santi Cazorla continues to enjoy a stellar campaign with Villarreal. The winger has incredibly yet to pick up an international cap for Spain, but that is simply a reflection on the strength of la Furia Roja rather than a slur on the 26-year-old winger’s abilities. Registered the opening goal in the previous encounter against Mallorca, though it is his creative talents that should be most cherished.
Kalu Uche
Kalu Uche
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 0
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
Almeria have come to life offensively in recent weeks, and Kalu Uche is one player who could take benefit. The Nigerian striker only has four goals in the league to date this season, but he registered against Getafe just before the winter break, indicating that he can be a success under Jose Luis Oltra’s charge. In addition to scoring, he’s set-up two goals in his last four games.
Prediction
Villarreal are a winning machine at home and will certainly not expect to come undone against a moderate Almeria side. If the Yellow Submarine are to maintain their strong position in La Primera, this is exactly the kind of game they simply have to win, and they have shown in the past they are more than capable of doing so.

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Editor's Prediction

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