The Lowdown on Villarreal CF

The Lowdown on Villarreal CF

A look at the side who are visiting the Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys on Saturday

Barça  take on Villarreal in the Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys on Saturday, kick off 6.30pm CET, with Barça needing a win to keep themselves in contention for the league title whilst the visitors need points to move themselves away from the relegation zone. 

The Club 

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 in 2022 they were in the last four again, eventually going out to Liverpool.

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

Head to head 

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 in the last game of the 2021/22 season. However, the blaugranes got back to winning ways last season when they did the double over Saturday's rivals, winning 3-0 at Spotify Camp Nou and 1-0 in the Estadio de la Cerámica. Barça have lost just one of their last 12 meetings at home in the league against Villarreal. 

Earlier this season, back in August, the two sides played out a seven goal thrilled in Villarreal with Barça coming from 3-2 down to win 4-3 thanks to goals from Ferran Torres and Robert Lewandowski. 

Last five games (all La Liga)
27/08/23 Villarreal 3-4 Barça
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
27/09/20 Barça 4-0 Villarreal

Form Guide 

Villarreal come into the game on Saturday just five points above the drop zone in La Liga with just one win in their last seven league fixtures. The club have already on to their third coach of the season after the sacking of former Barça coach Quique Setién and then the dismissal of his replacement, Pacheta. 

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 was with Barça B from 2011–2013. After five years at Watford, he joined Villarreal in the summer of 2022. Denis Suárez is in his second spell with Villarreal and in between he made 46 appearances for the Barça first team between 2016 and 2019. 

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 Manu Trigueros spent one year playing for the Barça U18 team before leaving for Murcia and Ilias Akhomach came through La Masia before joining Villarreal last summer. 

Marcelino back in charge 

Marcelino García Toral is Villarreal's third coach of the season and is in the second spell at the Club. His first time round as coach involved promotion from the second division and three consecutive top six finishes in La Liga before his departure in 2016. In 2019 he won the Copa del Rey as Valencia coach and in 2021 he recorded his only win against Barça as a coach, leading Athletic Club to a 3-2 win over the blaugranes in the final of the 2021 Spanish Super Cup. 

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