Like so many times before, Barca Blaugranes and Villarreal USA come together to bring you, our readers, some insight from the opposing side. With time in short supply the collaboration is a bit shorter than it was in the past, but it nonetheless provides us with several good pieces of information.
For more coverage of the always entertaining FC Barcelona vs Villarreal CF match-up be sure to stay here with us at Barca Blaugranes or visit the good folks at Villarreal USA for their views of the game.
Barca Blaugranes: Who deserves the most credit for Villarreal's great start to the season?
Allen Dodson: For me, Marcelino. The great start to the season was really based on the great finish to last season. The squad has changed some, of course, but the positivity Marcelino has brought to the table has really helped banish thoughts of our last season in the Primera.
BB: The signing of Giovani dos Santos has proved to be a shrewd piece of business. Have you been surprised by how much he brought to the team?
AD: Yes, I think we knew he would be a good fit but I wasn't expecting the consistently high level. He is scoring goals and setting them up as well--plus his speed really opens things up for Cani and Bruno to do their thing in midfield (not this game, unfortunately).
BB: Who do you expect will start in the starting line-up for Villarreal?
AD: With Cani and Bruno out, I think we probably start Trigueros and Tomas Pina in the double pivote, with Aquino and Hernán Pérez on the wings, Gio and Uche up front. Back four should be Mario, Musacchio, Gabriel, and Jaume Costa.
BB: Prediction for the game?
AD: We have usually played you guys pretty well, even at the Camp Nou, and if we had Cani and Bruno in the side I'd feel confident of getting a point. However, without them, I think we'll still battle hard. Could be 1-1, but 2-1 to you guys more likely. I'm certainly expecting a better performance than the last time we appeared in the Camp Nou (5-0 in the delayed start to the 2011-12 season)
BB: With the winter transfer window coming up do you expect to make any moves?
AD: I think we're pretty happy with the core of the team, and we don't have players coming out of contract in the summer that we need to move. Sr. Roig doesn't like to take on loanees unless there's a purchase option, and has said we are not going to make the same sort of mistakes we did in 2011, when we blew a big hole in our budget and overspent on players who didn't really help us much.
If we have had a disappointment so far this season, it's been Jeremy Perbet, who has struggled to get playing time. He's scored two goals, but hasn't looked that comfortable and I'm not sure fits as well into our attacking plan now as he did last year. There are rumors we are interested in Icelandic international Alfred Finnbogason, now at Heerenveen, but he is probably attracting interest from England as well, and we are not going to pay EPL salaries.
We have some players in the cantera who can help us in 2-3 years, I think, and our squad is deeper than it has been in a while. That's not to say we'll sit January out, and if we can bring in someone--especially on loan with a purchase option--who might ensure we qualify for the CL (at least the CL playoff) then I think we would go for it. But I don't expect a lot of deals.