|First Division - Day 11|
Villarreal 0 - Real Madrid 1
López Vallejo, Galván, Quique Álvarez, Unai, Arruabarrena;
Jorge López (Escoda 70'), Amor, Cagna, Calleja (Craioveanu 75');
Víctor, Bruno Marioni (Moisés 70'). 4-4-2.
Team changes: Villarreal: López Vallejo, Galván, Quique Álvarez, Jorge López, Calleja for Unanua, Xavi Roca, Quique Medina, Berruet, Gracia / Madrid: Salgado, Morientes for Geremi, Figo.
Real Madrid came away from Villarreal with three points they really didn't deserve thanks to an own goal by ex Barcelona midfielder Guillermo Amor in the second half. Amor was brought up in the junior ranks at the Nou Camp and played many seasons before leaving to Fiorentina in Louis Van Gaal's clear out, returning this season to Spain as part of Víctor Muñoz's big spending project to establish Villarreal as a force to be reckoned with. A Barcelona supporter at heart who likes nothing more than to put one over on his old rivals, his own goal, scored while trying to clear a Steve McManaman centre-come-shot, left him devastated and grief-stricken.
Víctor Muñoz, who also played many seasons at Barcelona, decided to switch back to a 4-4-2 formation despite beating his old team last week with a more defensive 5-3-2. López Vallejo recovered from his back injury and replaced Unanua (recently linked with Manchester City), one of five changes to the line up. On the other bench, Del Bosque was missing the suspended Luis Figo, and he opted for his famous 'trident', with Morientes making his first start of the season alongside Raúl with Guti behind them. McManaman switched from a central midfield role to replace Figo on the right wing. The change was not very successful however, and the creative play of Figo was very much missed by the likes of Guti, who has scored most of his goals this season from passes from the boots of the Portuguese.
Having beaten Deportivo and Barcelona in their last two games, the 17,000 capacity Madrigal stadium was full to bursting. The excited fans saw their team dominate most of the first half, with Víctor once again on form and his strike partner Marioni hitting the crossbar in one of the many chances he was given. Madrid gave out a warning though when referee Prados García disallowed a goal by Morientes, and shortly after the striker and Savio had been replaced by Munitis and Solari, they took the lead. Villarreal enclosed Madrid in their own half, with two new forwards Moisés and Craioveanu coming on, but Casillas and particularly Karanka in defence were faultless as they hung on to their lead.
Prados García blew the full time whistle with all his might to the relief of the Madrid players. All that is except Roberto Carlos, who was standing with his back turned alongside the referee, and the grimace on his face as the loud blast caught him unawares did the round of the television stations after the game. Madrid's three points takes them to within a point of leaders Valencia and Deportivo, and they now go on to play at Leeds in the Champions League and then to Tokyo to play Boca Juniors in the intercontinental Toyota cup, with next weekend's game against Zaragoza postponed to January. Villarreal drop to eleventh, but having taken six points from the big three they can't be too unhappy. Amor was consoled by the Madrid players, including several old friends from his days playing for Spain. It just wasn't his day, and to top it all he received a fifth yellow card which means he misses next week's game. Some days it really isn't worth getting out of bed!