Vila-real offers the largest imbalance in Europe between its census (51,000 inhabitants) and the size of its football team, defending champion of the Europa League and in the final table of the Champions League. We are, therefore, before an author’s club, an intelligent and exemplary work of Fernando Roig, who this summer spent 54 million euros on signings to redecorate a template for history. Today will fill with greatness the Bernabéu duel against Madrid, the most exciting in time (follow the game live on As.com).
“The problem of Madrid are their goals”, Unai Emery repeated yesterday insistently at the pre-match press conference. The statement would have been unusual in the last three years, in which it recorded the worst scoring figures in two decades. Zidane’s plan, which went half well, was to save in his own area what Cristiano was no longer going to enter in someone else’s. Carlo Ancelotti has come to something else. Already in its first stage, Madrid scored four or more goals in almost a third of its matches. At the beginning of this, thrashed like that exceed 40%. In part, because of the ‘baby boom’, those players who signed the club at school age and have now hatched (in the eleven that beat Mallorca there were seven players under 26 years old); partly because the veterans have not lost their hunger, although now they are served spaced.
Veterans and novices
Today three come back who rested on Wednesday: Casemiro, Modric and Hazard. The Brazilian has already spent 684 minutes this season and was barely resting with Zidane because there was no twin on his squad. Ancelotti has solved it by turning to a preventive 4-2-3-1. Modric has missed three games and hasn’t played a full one. And with Hazard, the last treatment is underway: giving him one game a week.
So Ancelotti will have to face the problem by excess rather than by default, as was the custom last year. His challenge is to fit Asensio into that plan, and that can happen by giving rest to Valverde, another of the overexploited, joining Casemiro and Modric and putting a line of three ahead with Asensio, Hazard and Vinicius or Rodrygo. In defense he will play little because Carvajal, Marcelo and Mendy are still out and in a team so enthusiastic about attacking, Nacho offers a better return than Lucas Vázquez.
The resurrection of Alcácer
Villarreal arrives without Gerard Moreno, a casualty that notably disarms him. The Catalan has scored 50 goals in the last two seasons and there is no striker in the squad who comes close to him, but Roig has signed two promising players this season. Danjuma, of a Dutch father and a Nigerian mother, was trained in the PSV quarry, but took off at Bruges and established himself at Bournemouth, where he scored 17 goals last season. His sprint competes with that of Vinicius. Boulaye Dia, French of Senegalese origin, offers a more powerful profile. You will not be a holder because your place is reserved for Alcacer, the reborn.
The former international had a difficult summer. He did not play in the preseason or in the first five games of the course. Even today he is the most expensive signing in the history of Villarreal, but he seemed hopelessly doomed to leave. The club tried to get him into the Guedes operation and it didn’t work. Nor did he find a team capable of assuming his card. He spent the first four games on the bench, but in the last two he revealed himself with a more than profitable forward. He was in three of the four goals his team scored against Elche and has earned another opportunity.
The almost certain loss of Yéremi Pino it will be used by Emery to put more cement to the center of the field, with Coquelin next to Capoue and Trigueros. Villarreal have lost in their last three visits to Madrid, but in their most recent four big events (Arsenal, United, Chelsea and Atlético) they have escaped unscathed. That is the virtue of the powerful: to become great in the big parties.