Villarreal in search of elusive spark

Villarreal in search of elusive spark

MADRID - Reuters
Villarreal in search of elusive spark

Goalkeeper Diego Lopez urges his Villarreal mates to stand up and fight. AFP photo

Villarreal has fallen a long way since losing narrowly to Arsenal in the 2006 Champions League semifinals and keeper Diego Lopez believes now is the time for the “real men” in the squad to prove their mettle.
The team known as “yellow submarine” after its canary-colored shirts is second from bottom in La Liga with just under half the season gone and faces a crucial match at home to fellow strugglers Sporting Gijon on Jan. 23.

They were beaten in all six of their Champions League Group A games this season, scoring just two goals and conceding 14, and their elimination from the King’s Cup at the hands of third-tier Mirandes last month prompted the dismissal of coach Juan Carlos Garrido and the promotion of B-team boss Jose Francisco Molina to replace him.

As well as the departure of their best player, midfielder Santi Cazorla, to Malaga in the close season, they have suffered a spate of injuries to key players, including Giuseppe Rossi and Nilmar.

“The first thing to do is to accept the reality because we are second from bottom and that means we all have to give more, individually and collectively,” Lopez said. “I would like to see a lot more pugnacity.”