From relegation two years ago to top four of La Liga, Villarreal has taken Spanish and world football by storm in a season they weren’t even expected to finish in the top half. Lead by manager Marcelino and leading goalscorer Bakambu, Villarreal 31 games into the season currently have an eight point lead on fifth place Celta Vigo and only trail third place Real Madrid by twelve points. On top of their impressive league form, Villarreal are also into the quarter-finals of the Europa League where they’ll face off against Sparta Prague.
Villarreal have all but secured their spot in European competition next season but only through a complete rebuild and an attractive, effective style of football. Lets look more deeply at what Villarreal have done to reach this level.
During the summer Villarreal lost a total of ten players including their entire attacking line of: Vietto, Balaguero, Uche, Joel Campbell, and Giovani Dos Santos. At this point people, especially Villarreal supporters, were questioning Marcelino but he turned things around quickly with eleven new signings including: Adrian, Soldado, and club top goalscorer Bakambu.
The one downfall in Marcelino’s style of play is the aggressive pressing he makes his team play and it results in an unnecessary amount of cards and fouls conceded. For example, Roberto Soldado has 12 yellow cards of his team’s 82 in the season and for a forward that is ridiculous. Partially has to do with his lack of speed and results in a lot of grabbing trying to press high. Despite his insanely high amount of yellow cards, Soldado has found his feet again in Villarreal after a disastrous spell in England. He leads the team with eight assists. Acting as the perfect hold up striker for Bakambu.
If all this wasn’t enough to prove how great this season has been, this campaign saw Villarreal top of the Liga BBVA for the first time in club history after playing 576 top-flight games. Inevitably Villarreal are a long way off, yet so close from competing with Barcelona and Madrid but I think they are here to stay and it is making the Spanish league a little more competitive little by little.
By Jonathan Molik, TFN Columnist on 05/04/2016 at 20:08
Follow Jonathan on Twitter @JonathanMolik