FC Barcelona are returning to El Madrigal for the first time in two years, after Villarreal spent last season in the second division. The Catalans haven’t lost there since 2007, and this year will be meeting up with two old friends: Giovani dos Santos and Joan Román.
Giovani dos Santos is having a great season at Villarreal. The Mexican made his FC Barcelona first team debut in 2007, but despite a promising start under Frank Rijkaard, the youngster left for Tottenham Hotspur. From there, he was farmed out on loan to Ipswich Town, Galatasaray and Racing Santander before ending up playing last season for Mallorca, where he scored six goals. The 24-year-old is now at Villarreal, where he’s having his finest season yet.
The younger brother of FCB’s Jonathan dos Santos has scored eleven goals this season and is the seventh most used of his team’s squad. On Sunday, he’ll be returning to action after being sidelined with a leg injury.
Joan Román also spent some time in the Barça reserves, but more recently. He arrived in 2012 from the Manchester City academy and played 22 games last season. He was once again a favourite choice of Eusebio early this season, making 16 appearances, but he went on loan to Villarreal during the winter transfer window, the idea being for him to get some first division experience under his belt.
Under Marcelino Garcia, the winger has gradually been working his way into the team, and has already played at both the Santiago Bernabéu and the Vicente Calderón.