Many sing about the fairy tale of New York around Christmas but Villarreal are the fairy tale of Spanish football. Let’s face it how many football fans had heard of the club before their fantastic run to the Champions League semi-finals in 2006? Whatever the figure halve it down to how many fans knew of the club back in 1998. That year Villarreal made their debut in La Liga.
It really is an amazing story, and true we’ve seen it before where clubs from a second division get promoted and do well enough to finish in the top 5 for example and qualify for Europe. But Villarreal went that step further and though they have been relegated on a few occasions since 1998 they keep coming back, have attracted quality players and coaches and are doing rather well this season.
This summer Unai Emery former coach of PSG and Arsenal signed a three year contract with the club known as ‘The Yellow Submarines’, and he already has a 53% win rate. The most stunning fact is that Villarreal have lost just once this season and are in 3rd place with 20 points, three in front of Real Madrid and six in front of Barcelona and four from the top.
No one is expecting Villarreal to be a realistic challenger for the title this season, though at the present time La Liga is well open to invitations, but if the club can finish in a European position Emery would have done his job and brought the club full circle.
It is incredible to think that the club have risen from a population of just 50,000 and their achievements have been quite incredible. Not only reaching the 2006 Champions League semi-final, but they also reached the semi-finals of the Europa League on three occasions and finished as runners up in La Liga back in 2008. They finished just 8 points shy of Real Madrid the champions but 10 points in front of Barcelona, that Barcelona team who were just getting ready to become one of the best clubs sides we have ever witnessed.
The recruitment at Villarreal has been impressive and apart from a few seasons when they club didn’t perform at all well these past 22 years have been incredible for the club. Much of that is down to club president Fernando Roig.
Roig took the gamble to buy Villarreal back in 1997 and it has been his clear investment and strategy that has brought the clubs most successful era to fruition in the past two decades. Back in 2017 Roig had this to say about the club. “The fans can complain that we haven’t won a trophy, but I’d like to assure them that really, the best thing for Villarreal is ensuring that the club remains in the top flight that’s our own Cup tournament in a way. For this club, the most important triumph is playing in the top division every year and playing in Europe every now and again. Villarreal is economically stable and in a few years’ time, our youth academy will be a source of new talent for the team.
Villarreal have had stand out players of the past including Juan Roman Riquelme, Robert Pires, Giuseppi Rossi and Diego Forlan to name a few. The current squad are doing well too.
Gerard Moreno currently has 57 goals and is just 26 shy of becoming the clubs all time leading goalscorer. At 28 he has the time to do it as long as he stays fit and doesn’t leave beforehand. This season alone Moreno has scored six goals and has the most fantasy points of any Villarreal player with 25 so far.
Just behind him is his striker partner Paco Alcacer who would cost you just 3m and has earned 24 points this season. He has been involved in seven goals so far and has scored 5.
Manuel Trigueros and Daniel Parejo have bolstered the midfield and in defence Mario Gaspar has stood out, he has 14 points so far and has helped to keep 3 clean sheets.
Once again the future looks bright for Villarreal, and this season in particular could be very memorable indeed if they can keep up their good form under Emery. Right now nobody can be thinking that their yellow submarine is going to sink this season.
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