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Villarreal compared to a year ago

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Just throwing this into the mix.

FC Zurich v Villarreal CF - UEFA Europa League Photo by Valeriano Di Domenico/Getty Images

Villarreal in 2015-16: after 31 matches, we had 57 points. (39 goals scored, 26 allowed). We ended up with 64 points, having scored 5 goals and allowed 9 in our last 7 matches.

Villarreal in 2016-17: after 31 matches, we have 54 points (45 goals scored, 24 allowed). Interesting that our defense has been just as good, after losing Bailly, while our much-maligned offense has actually been better.

Last year our 57 points after 31 matches had us with an eight-point lead over Celta in fifth, while this year 54 points has us trailing the CL positions by seven points.

One of the trends of this season—and I will give myself credit for predicting it in a podcast a ways back—is,fairer TV money distribution has made clubs like Celta, Espanyol, Eibar--the teams that were middling but couldn’t keep their better players (remember when Eibar lost Albentosa to Derby County?)—more competitive because they CAN keep those players. And teams like Alaves, who just arrived on the scene, know they will get a better budget next season as well.

Looking at those statistics, it’s hard to go against a contract renewal for Escriba. However, Europe is a different story. Granted, we got a couple of terrible draws—Monaco in the CL playoff round, Roma in the EL round of 32. Europa League group play has always struck me as a difficult planning job. Clubs from the smaller European leagues—especially those with little depth—can plan a strong XI for the group stage, while clubs like Villarreal try to give their bench players some time.

I can’t remember a time in recent years when Villarreal coasted through the group stage. Even in 2010-11 under Garrido, we had to win our last two matches to comfortably progress. Marcelino’s record was similar: we had to win at Apollon Limasol in the last group match of 2014, while we lost our first match of 2015 as well and needed a 1-0 win against Rapid Wien.

The round of 32 is a crapshoot, too. For reasons I don’t remember, in 2010-11 Napoli didn’t play their top XI at home, and that 0-0 draw cost them when we won 2-1 in El Madrigal. 2014-15 we easily defeated RB Salzburg, but ran up against Sevilla in the round of 16; 2015-16 we got that Tomas Pina goal to prgress to the next round.

So, Escribá failing in the round of 32 against Roma wouldn’t be that bad...except for the matter of that 4-0 home loss in the first leg.

My guess is he’ll be renewed for sure if we finish in the top six. What do you think?