Villarreal News, August 15: Valencia's debt, European matches, fantasy football....

Gio played yesterday for Mexico, returns to face Almeria - Otto Greule Jr

Players returned to training (including Musacchio), while we prepare for the new season with our fantasy league--some cool prizes coming from Vila-real! And Gabriel Paulista is arriving in Vila-real for his medical after signing yesterday.

Actually, we're going to start with news of our near neighbors. Independent auditors KPMG have made a report on the finances of Valencia CF: the club is technically insolvent with debts exceeding assets (I do not know how they valued the Mestalla or the Nou Mestalla), and they have €275.7 million of debt. The preceding administration claimed it had reduced debt by €190m, the auditors say no, the reduction was only €66m.

The auditors also said it was necessary to raise €40 million from selling players, which they have done (or close to) from the sales of Valdez/Tino Costa/Soldado. Before more purchases, players have to be sold first (Piatti looks next to go, for around €2.5 million).

Valencia are playing in the Europa League, but we know from experience ourselves in order to make significant money it's necessary to get to the semis at least.

Which brings us to the European competitions. Again, our experience is establishing a balance between league and Europe (especially the Europa League) can be hard.

Europa League: Sevilla are drawn against Slask Warsaw (who beat Garrido's Club Brugge in the last round) while Betis play Jablonec, a club from the Czech Republic. Valencia will be in the first round and will have a first pot seed, so should be favored to get through the group stage. If Sevilla win their qualifier, they will be a first pot seed as well--Betis, second or third.

Champions League: This is getting interesting, because Metallist Kharkiv, who have won through to the final playoff round, have been expelled from the competition for match-fixing. Fenerbahce, who have been similarly disqualified, but have appealed to the CAS, are in the final playoff round as well. (Metallist was drawn against Schalke, Fener against Arsenal). At the moment, our old Europa League friends PAOK have replaced Metallist in the draw, pending appeal.

Real Sociedad have a tough playoff draw against Olympique Lyonnais in the fourth round; Spain's other entrants (Barca/Madrid/Atleti) all should be first-pot seeds.

And I know you were wondering, so I'll tell you Villarreal still have a pretty good UEFA coefficient (currently #26), though it's calculated as five-year rolling total. If it looks as though we're going to qualify for Europe next season, this could become important.

Santi Cazorla scored one goal and set up another in Spain's 2-0 win over Ecuador (friendly).

Paulista said goodbye to his fans in Brazil as he prepares to leave for Vila-real. He played in Vitoria's 3-1 win yesterday (an important game for them as they attempt to qualify for the Copa Sudamericana, I am told). He should undergo his medical today in Vila-real.

Our Australian youth international Rafa Jiménez scored on his debut, but the young Soccerroos (U-20)went down 4-2 to Mexico in the tournament they're playing in Spain. Good on ya anyhow, mate!

How about this graphic from ESPN's coverage of the Ceramica Trophy match: Gio vs Mario Gomez, the stats! 38 touches and 22 passes, including an assist, for Gio.

Speaking of Gio, he played 56 minutes yesterday against the Ivory Coast, Mexico winning 4-1. I didn't see the game but apparently he did very well, pressing for the turnover that created Mexico's second goal, assisting on the third, and having a chance or two of his own saved.

FANTASY LEAGUE: A reminder that we are again doing a La Liga fantasy football league via the Yahoo Sports site. You can enter our league through this link. A reminder though--please, choose a team name that avoids words that are viewed as insulting or demeaning to others. It reflects badly on us, and on the good folks at Vila-real who are promoting this fantasy idea (and who are going to be providing some amazing prizes) when that happens. Anti-gay or racist words are not okay!

I will close with the fortune I picked up last night at our local Chinese restaurant (no kidding): "Focus in on the color yellow for good luck!! " Vamos submarino!

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