The Lowdown on Villarreal CF

The Lowdown on Villarreal CF

A closer look at the side that host FC Barcelona in La Liga on Sunday

Barça take a trip this Sunday to take on Villarreal in the Estadio de la Cerámica, kick off 5.30pm CEST. Let’s take a closer look at the opposition.


Villarreal are the classic example of how a team from a small town can mix it with the big boys. The club spent most of its existence in the regional leagues, but made it into the second division in the 1990s and in 1998 won promotion to the top flight for the first time ever.

They were not expected to stay long, but two decades later they are still there. In 2008 they finished as high as second.

They got as far as the Champions League semi-finals in 2006, the kind of achievement many assumed would never be repeated, but two seasons ago they were in the last four again, eventually going out to Liverpool.

Not bad for a city of just 50,000 people!


Opened way back in 1923, El Madrigal was re-named El Estadio de la Cerámica in 2017 in honour of the local ceramics industry. A lot of rebuilding work has gone on since the club has been playing in the top flight, although the 24,890 capacity still makes it one of the smaller venues in La Liga.



There was a period about a decade ago when Barça developed a nasty habit of slipping up against Villarreal. But the ‘bogey team’ label was emphatically confined to the past when Barça went on an incredible spree of 27 games without defeat to the ‘Yellow Submarine’ in all competitions.

That run came to an end in May of 2022 when Villarreal beat the Catalans at Spotify Camp Nou  in the last game of the 2021/22 season. However, last season Barça were back in business and won this fixture both at home and away. Away from home, Barça have not lost to Villarreal for an incredible 15 years, which is pretty impressive considering they are currently ranked 18th in Europe!

In total, Barça have scored 98 goals against Villarreal, so two more on Sunday would break the 100 barrier.

Last five games (all La Liga)
12/02/23 Villarreal 0-1 Barça
20/10/22 Barça 3-0 Villarreal
22/05/22 Barça 0-2 Villarreal
27/11/21 Villarreal 1-3 Barça
25/04/21 Villarreal 1-2 Barça



After only winning one of their seven preseason friendlies (against Rheindorf Altach of Austria), Villarreal didn't get their season off to the best of starts when they lost 2-1 at home to Betis. But they quickly made up for that with a 1-0 win at Mallorca. 


There are a number of new faces in the Villarreal squad this season. The transfer window has not been closed yet, but all of Santi Comesaña, Ramón Terrats, Ben Brereton, Alexander Sørloth, Denis Suárez and Ilias Akhomach have all been added to the team.

Most international caps
Aïssa Mandi (Algeria, 82), Raul Albiol (Spain, 58), Alexander Sørloth (Norway, 49), Pepe Reina (Spain, 36), Ben Brereton Díaz (Chile, 21), Juan Foyth (Argentina, 18), Gerard Moreno (Spain, 17), Yeremy Pino (Spain, 11)

Barça connections
Goalkeeper Pepe Reina is best known for his years at Liverpool, but before that he spent seven years at Barça, mainly as a reserve. His most recent club was Lazio before returning to Villarreal, where he already had a three-year spell from 2002–2005. Right back Kiko Femenía (below) was with Barça B from 2011–2013. After five years at Watford, he joined Villarreal in the summer of 2022. 


Centre back Jorge Cuenca was also at Barça B, in his case from 2017–2020, before joining Villarreal, although he spent his first two seasons on loan to Almería and Getafe. Midfield stalwart and Villarreal vice-captain  Manu Trigueros spent one year playing for the Barça U18 team before leaving for Murcia.

Denis Suárez, who played 36 times for Barça B and 46 times for the senior team, was first at Villarreal in the 2026/16 season and this summer returned to the club. He's been at Celta for the last four Liga campaigns, but spent part of his final year on loan to Espanyol.

Denis Suárez autor del primer gol blaugrana / FOTO: FCB-ARXIU

And two more players with a Barça past were added to the Villarreal roster this summer. Adrià Altimira left La Masia for Croatian side NK Lokomotiva and spent last season playing second division football with Andorra. And winger Ilias Akhomach, who played two games for the Barça team, is officially on the Villarreal B books, but is likely to get call-ups for first team action as the season progresses.


Another Barça connection at Villarreal is their current boss Quique Setién. The 64 year old was FC Barcelona coach in the 2019/20 season and did not take a new job until 2020, replacing Unai Emery at the Cerámica after the latter left for the Premier League in October 2022 to take charge of Aston Villa.

Setien LaLiga


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