March has left a sour taste in many Villarreal fans' mouths, but we cannot forget about the six-plus months of stellar competition on three fronts that led to this disappointment. Thankfully, national team managers around the globe have focused on the positives and rewarded seven Yellow Submarine players with international team places.
If you add in our three injured internationals and hopefully soon-to-be Spanish right back Mario Gaspar, Villarreal counts a full XI in its squad. A look below by position (in a 4-4-2 formation):
- Goalkeeper. Even multiple lost seasons could not keep Sergio Asenjo from the senior La Furia Roja side. He replaces long-time third-choice goalkeeper (and former Villarreal player) Pepe Reina to slot in behind the undisputed Iker Casillas and David de Gea (maybe the former's replacement at Real Madrid?). Asenjo has benefited from moves away from Spain by Victor Valdés and Diego López (another ex-Submariner, of course), along with sensational form the past two seasons. Most importantly, he's avoided the injuries that dogged him with Atlético Madrid and Málaga. ¡Enhorabuena!
- Defenders. The aforementioned Mario would play right back on this fantasy team - hopefully Vicente del Bosque picks him sooner than later. It's also a fantasy team because Serbian left back Bojan Jokic has not played yet this campaign, leaving Jaume Costa to man the Villarreal left flank more than desired. Mateo Musacchio returns to the Argentina fold after a nearly four-year(!) absence - well-deserved recognition despite his somewhat erratic play this season. Hopefully Luciano Vietto is in Tata Martino's next call. And African champion Eric Bailly is back with Cote d'Ivoire; no surprise there.
- Midfielders. Jonathan dos Santos is back with El Tri - another compliment on an impressive campaign. With Jona's newly-cultivated versatility, it will be interesting to see how Miguel Herrera utilizes the younger dos Santos brother. Bruno Soriano again appears to have a foothold in del Bosque's rotation - let's hope that's still the case when #21 returns from injury. Moi Gómez will feature for Spain's U-21 team and continues to show flashes of his potential. To round it off, the injured Denis Cheryshev will be a staple of Russia's XI for years to come.
- Strikers. Giovani dos Santos accompanies his brother in the Mexican side just as the elder dos Santos is regaining his form. And though he's played on the wing for Villarreal, Joel Campbell starred as a lone striker in Costa Rica's Cinderella run to the World Cup quarterfinals. Let's hope both CONCACAF internationals can rediscover their goal scoring touch.
Enjoy following Villarreal's seven internationals over the FIFA break! Endavant.