Villarreal are in England again—not that far from Sheffield, if truth be told—but this time, we take on newly promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers at their home ground of Molineux. For Wolves, it’s their last preseason match before their EPL adventure starts next Saturday.
Our opponents: Full disclosure, Wolves are a bit personal for me. I had a good friend in the 80’s and early 90’s who was a big Wolves supporter, and he took me to matches at what was a terrible time in the club’s history. They went through three successive relegations, but Steve Bull’s goals led them back to the Second Division anyway, though they’ve only been in the EPL twice before (2003-04; 2009-12).
Perhaps in tribute to the team’s glory days in the 1950’s, the Wolves’ fans used to sing “Those Were The Days”. I’ve no idea what they sing now.
Where they are: Wolverhampton is east of Birmingham, and is often considered to be part of the “Black Country”, though geologically speaking it’s not part of the area built on the thick coal seam that gives the region its name. Nonetheless, the town is closely connected to towns which are: the “Black Country Derby” takes place between West Bromwich Albion (11 miles away) and Wolves. However, with West Brom, Birmingham City, Aston Villa and Stoke City all in lower divisions now, Wolves—for the first time ever, as far as I know—is the lone West Midlands (Potteries and Black Country) representative in the top flight.
Their team: Their squad has a very Portuguese feel courtesy of “superagent” Jorge Mendes. Coach Nuno, you may recall, was at Valencia (another Mendes client); Rui Patricio and João Moutinho joined this summer, along with defender Jonny, ex-Celta; Ivan Cavaleiro, Helder Costa and Ruben Neves were part of the promotion side.
Are there three worse teams than Wolves in the EPL this season? Probably, yes. Nuno had them playing in a 3-4-2-1 last season with Cavaleiro and Costa behind Afobe, and that combination worked well. They will probably need to add some muscle to the quickness and verticality if they are to challenge for the top half of the EPL table, but they should be fun to watch regardless.
Villarreal: Unfortunately, I don’t know who traveled as part of our team to this one. My guess would be we might try to give a bit of time to our projected starting XI and then make subs after 60 minutes.
TV: Uh. Gol TV has the rights in Spain, but they are broadcasting it on tape delay. So I don’t know how easy it will be to find a stream. Radio Vila-real will have Valencian commentary though. Match starts at 7AM West Coast time in the US.