Villarreal go into Sunday’s game against FC Barcelona in optimistic mood after an impressive start to the 2015/2016 league campaign. Coach Marcelino Gracía has a new look squad after bringing in several new faces in the summer and the team has settled quickly, currently occupying fifth place in the table, just four behind leaders Real Madrid and Barça. The team known as the ‘Yellow Submarine’ have recorded wins over demanding opponents such as Atlético Madrid, Sevilla and Athletic Bilbao. Barça’s next opponents are not just performing domestically but also in Europe where they are second in their group in the UEFA Europa League, three points behind leaders Rapid Vienna.
The team from the region of Castelló had a busy summer with several notable arrivals and departures. In attack the likes of Roberto Soldado, Matías Nahuel, Cedric Bakambu, Leo Baptistao and Samu Castillejo have had the job of replacing key figures from last season such as Gerard Moreno, Uche, Denis Cheryshev and Lucian Vietto, all of who left the club in the close season. Those players came up with 29 goals between them last year – on Sunday at Camp Nou Villarreal’s principal threat in attack will be Bakambu who is the team’s top scorer in the league with four goals.
In midfield captain Bruno Soriano and Tomas Pina anchor operations alongside former Barça men Jonathan Dos Santos and Denis Suárez – for the latter the blaugranes still retain a buy back clause at the end of this season. Villarreal have not beaten the Catalans in 14 matches but that fact does not stop them being one of the toughest sides to take in the division and games between the two clubs is an almost certain guarantee of entertaining football.