Villarreal’s B team qualified second in their group, but their reward is a not-very-favorable draw—they are paired against the team we wanted to avoid.
Athletic Club B is 11-2-1 in their last 14 matches, including a home win over champion Mirandés, have not lost at home since the first match of the season, and haven’t even DRAWN at home since November.
Gaizka Garitano is their coach—you’ll remember him as the coach who took Eibar up to the Primera. (You might not remember he coached Depor part of last season before being replaced).
Some key players include Andoni Lopez, 22 year-old left back who made his first-team debut against Girona this season; Iñigo Vicente is their playmaker on the wing—the 20 year-old has chipped in with 10 goals this season; while their main targetman is Gorka Guruzeta, a 21 year-old who has netted 15 goals this season and is interesting teams like Chelsea.
They play a 4-2-3-1 almost entirely; they’ve tried a 4-4-2 a couple of times without great success. Hard to believe they only finished fourth, but their group seemed to have a wider disparity among teams than ours did—their 73 points would have tied Mallorca as leaders in our group. And they have scored more goals than any other team in the Segunda B, too. How did they finish fourth again?
The word I have is that this team is better than the one that got promoted to the Segunda three years ago, and they are on fire right now. The key for Villarreal, as so often, will be the midfield; we have to try to knock them off rhythm in the center of the pitch with strong defensive play.
Thanks to our friends at the AC Peña California for this information, though I wish they weren’t quite SO optimistic about their chances!!! Obviously the key for Villarreal will be to come out of the first leg with a draw or possibly a one-goal loss, hoping we can turn that around at home.
The first leg will be in Bilbao either May 19 or 20, and the second leg, in Vila-real, the 26th or 27th. ENDAVANT VILLARREAL!