El Centrocampista

YELLOW PERIL – What does the new campaign hold for Villarreal?

By Jamie Milligan

Last season was a disappointing yet successful campaign for Villarreal.

Although it may sound like a paradox, the Yellow Submarine’s season ended as something of a glorious failure.

At one stage Juan Carlos Garrido’s side looked as if they could challenge on three fronts, competing in the latter rounds of the Europa league and the Copa Del Rey as well as going steady in La Liga.

Come May however, Villarreal’s small but talented squad ran out of steam and ended up exiting the Europa League at the semi-final stage to eventual winners FCPorto, having already gone out of the Copa del Rey at the quarter-final stage.

Their league form also suffered in the second half of the season and despite finishing in a credible fourth place, Villarreal endured an alarming slump of form in the last ten or so matches of the domestic campaign.

With the new La Liga season just weeks away, the El Madrigal side have both added and lost important players and have enjoyed some decent pre-season form.

Here I will try to assess the positions where I feel Juan Carlos Garrido should strengthen, look at the players who have come and gone from the squad and ultimately decide if Villarreal can take a step closer to glory after being agonisingly close to that elusive first trophy last term.


The Yellow Submarine are perhaps at their strongest between the sticks.

Number one keeper Diego Lopez has become somewhat of a stalwart for Villarreal with his impressive performances down the years and is constantly on the fringes of the Spanish national side.

Garrido has also made an excellent signing in the form of the experienced Cesar Sanchez, who has been snapped up from Valencia.

The former Real Madrid shot-stopper is a fantastic professional as well as a quality keeper.


Another position where I feel Villarreal have real strength.

Strapping Colombian stopper Carlos Zapata has been added to the Villarreal ranks.

The former Udinese defender has an ever-growing reputation as a solid tackling, smooth operator in defence.

He should prove to be an inspired signing for Garrido.

Alongside Zapata are the likes of European Championship winner, Carlos Marchena and Argentine pairing Gonzalo Rodriguez and Mateo Musacchio.

Assessment: Another position where I feel Villarreal possess real strength. No strengthening needed.

Though strong in the centre of defence, I feel Villarreal are terribly light at full back. Club legend Juan Capdevilla has been, rather bizarrely, allowed to join Benfica meaning that the only recognised left backs at the club are Jose Catala, a player who is more comfortable as a winger, and former Villarreal B player Juan Oriol. At right back the Yellow Submarine have the reliable Juan Angel Lopez returning from injury and the talented Mario.

Assessment: If not a right back, Garrido should definitely be on the look-out for fresh faces at left back. Strengthening required.


Up until this week I’d have said no strengthening was required for this position.

However, the shock transfer of Santiago Cazorla to Malaga leaves a huge hole in Garrido’s midfield.

It is true that Villarreal have a plethora of options in this position with the likes of Cani, Valero, Bruno and Senna all competing for places but, I don’t feel any of those players are a straight-swap for Cazorla.

For that reason, I expect to see Garrido on the market for a new creative midfielder.

Assessment: Plenty of options but could suffer without replacing Cazorla’s magic.


It’s often said that a successful striking partnership should consist of both little and large.

Nilmar and Rossi are a potent attacking threat.

However, Villarreal have made a mockery of that old adage.

The tiny terrors, Giueseppe Rossi and Nilmar forged a profitable partnership last season.

The two tricky, little strikers formed a telepathic understanding almost immediately and were a big part of Villarreal’s success last term.

Villarreal are further aided by the presence of Argentine target-man Marco Ruben.

Assessment: Though they have three good strikers, if they are to compete on three fronts once again, another addition will be required. Strengthening required.

In summary I feel that overall, Villarreal have a strong squad and should be able to build on last season’s promising campaign.

There are however things which need to be addressed.

The exit of Juan Capdevilla leaves Villarreal desperately requiring at least one new full back.

Replacing star-man Cazorla also has to be something which occupies Garrido’s immediate thoughts as though they have plenty of central midfielders, the Yellow Submarine lack a player as dynamic and inventive as Cazorla.


With a couple of quality signing I see no reason why Villarreal cannot record another top four finish.

There will be fresh challenges from the likes of Malaga and Athletic Club but Villarreal have the experience of competing near the top of La Liga.

The Copa del Rey and the Champions League group stages should be a realistic target as well.

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