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FC Barcelona’s penultimate guests at the Camp Nou of the Liga season will be the Villarreal Club de Fútbol (Saturday 6 May at 6.30pm CET: TICKETS HERE). Here’s a little background on a club that’s been a regular feature of the top half of the Liga table in the last decade.
Where are they from?
Located about 250km down the Mediterranean coast from Barcelona, Villarreal has a population of barely 50,000 people, although it’s practically attached to the much larger city of Castellón de la Plana. Trivia hunters may like to know that it's also the birthplace of Francisco Tárrega, the classical composer whose Gran Vals is best known today for being the iconic Nokia ringtone.
Origins and history
The club has existed since 1923 but didn’t play in the first division until 1998. Few people would have predicted that they would have played all but two LaLiga seasons since then, enjoying no fewer than seven Champions League or Europa League campaigns along the way.
The colour of their kit is the obvious reason for Villarreal being known as the Yellow Submarine, a name associated to the club since 1967 but not so much because of The Beatles as a local cover of the Liverpudlian quartet’s song by Los Mustang. For many years there has been a dispute with Cadiz CF as to which of the two clubs is the authentic Submarino Amarillo.
It has undergone many changes over the years, but what is now a 24,890 capacity venue has always stood on the same site. On occasion of Barça’s visit earlier this season, the stadium’s name was changed from El Madrigal to the Estadio de la Cerámica, in recognition of the city’s association to the ceramics industry.
Fran Escribá never played professional football but made his name as assistant at various clubs to current Espanyol boss Quique Sánchez Flores. Since then he’s been head coach at Elche and Getafe before joining Villarreal last summer.
Highlights of Villarreal’s recent continental exploits have included semi-finals of both the Champions League (losing to Arsenal in 2006 in the best ever performance by a debutant club) and the Europa League (losing to Liverpool in 2015). They missed out on Europe this season, but are currently locked in a tight battle with Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad for one of the Europa League berths.
Mexican international Jonathan dos Santos is the best known connection, now in his third season at Villarreal, although central defender Manu Trigueros and midfielder Víctor Ruiz also spent time at the Barça academy in their younger days.
Did you know?
With something in the region of 19,000 regular spectators, Villarreal holds the all-time Spanish record for the number season ticket holders as a proportion of the population of the city in which it is based.
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