Ahead of tonight's Champions League Group A fixture, we look at five things Mancini's Manchester City can expect from Spanish side Villareal.
A crisis of confidence
This time last season, Villarreal were one of the most scintillatingly pass-pinging sides to watch in Europe. Five of the teams’ first seven league games had been won with panache and passion, verve and vivaciousness. A blistering start to the season saw Villarreal in second and about to give Barcelona the toughest of tests in la Liga.
This time last season Manchester City would have been pooping their platinum-clad pants at the thought of Villarreal coming to town - but not now. Villarreal have won just one game from seven leaving the Yellow Submarine spluttering in 14th, just two points from the relegation zone. This is a Villarreal side that looks a million miles from last season’s team that finished in fourth and made it to the Europa League semi-finals.
A lack of width
Geeky fans of tactics and formations will be intrigued to see Villarreal lining up with five central midfielders on Tuesday and just the single striker. One of the problems that Villarreal are suffering from this season is a complete lack of width with neither Cani, Borja Valero, Carlos Marchena, Bruno nor Jonathan de Guzman able to fulfill this role. Roberto Mancini can expect a funnel-shaped approach from the Spanish side with Giuseppe Rossi as the nozzle.
Garrido looks like a tough-talking, throwing-away-the-rule-book, New York detective. Any nonsense from the Manchester City bench could be met with deadly force.
A struggling Borja Valero
Villarreal’s playmaker had an outstanding campaign last year, so much so that the former West Brom man was even called up by Vicente Del Bosque for Spain’s end of season North American tour. Possibly Borja is now missing his inspirational playmaking partner in-crime, Santi Cazorla, who left for Málaga over the summer or the midfielder simply couldn’t keep up with the form which saw two great seasons for Mallorca and then his current club. Whatever the reason, Borja’s defence-splitting passing and excellent assists have gone AWOL this year.
Giuseppe Rossi out-of-form
The American-born Italian striker does not look a happy bunny at all this season with Villarreal’s poor form being mirrored by the club’s most important player. Against Getafe on Saturday, shots were scuffed and swerved with poor Rossi looking to the heavens and even nibbling on his shirt in search of an answer as to why he has only scored the one league goal from open play this season.
A hard man manager
The Villarreal boss, Juan Carlos Garrido, is a former number two at the club having spent five years coaching the ‘B’ team before being given the chance of the big job midday way through the 2009/10 season. But with his sharp suit and overcoat favoured during the winter months - along with a big, scary chin - Garrido looks like a tough-talking, throwing-away-the-rule-book, New York detective. Any nonsense from the Manchester City bench could be met with deadly force.
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