Atletico Madrid are the visitors to El Madrigal on Wednesday, with Villarreal desperate to bring an end to a run of nine matches without a victory.
Marcelino’s side sit sixth in La Liga, although any potential hopes of sealing a UEFA Champions League spot have been dashed by a lengthy injury list, which has contributed to a poor sequence of form.
The likes of Luciano Vietto, Giovani dos Santos, Denis Cheryshev and Ikechukwu Uche have all been fitness concerns and, in their past seven league outings, Villarreal have drawn five games and lost two – scoring just one goal in the process.
That run, coupled with a 5-2 aggregate defeat to Sevilla in the last 16 of the UEFA Europa League, has seen their season tail away badly, but coach Marcelino remains positive.
“When you work towards a big objective, you must suffer a lot for it,” he said following the weekend’s 0-0 draw at Real Sociedad.
“The statistics say we went several games without a win, but we’ve been good enough to win in that time. We’re feeling fine, playing good football and we must stay on this path.
“We’re a young team who have gained experience this season. The manner in which the team has competed has given me great satisfaction.
“We didn’t win, but we’re hard to beat and once we have our players back, we’ll have recovered our winning edge.”
Atletico, by contrast, have been in strong form in the league recently, going unbeaten in their past 10 and losing only one of 15.
Those results mean Diego Simeone’s side look set to secure third place and the final automatic qualifying berth for the Champions League, although both Sevilla and Valencia have designs on usurping them.
On Saturday, the defending Liga champions bounced back from their European exit at the hands of Real Madrid by dispatching Elche 3-0 at Vicente Calderon, Antoine Griezmann netting twice.
That brace took the Frenchman’s tally to 22 for the season, behind only Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in the Pichichi charts.
“I’m happy to help the team. I wish to continue this streak, the most important thing is to help the team,” said Griezmann.
“When I arrived I wanted to improve my statistics and now we have to keep working.
“It is true that we have been playing often every three days and we have a bit of accumulated fatigue, but we have to win the remaining league matches.”
While Marcelino continues to battle with a long list of absentees, Simeone’s only concern surrounds Mario Suarez (hamstring).
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