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The Villarreal-Valencia rivalry resumes at the Mestalla

Some historical background on the matches between the two.

Villarreal visit Valencia on Saturday—-it’s the latest installment in a rivalry that has been quite heated in recent years. For many years, of course, Villarreal were truly considered a “village team”, toiling away in the regional leagues or Tercera Division, while Valencia were competing in La Liga and enjoyed a lot of Copa del Rey success, and European successes, as well.

Villarreal and Valencia met in four friendlies (always in Vila-real) beginning in 1953 and ending in 1981, and Valencia always won those. The first time the two clubs met in a match that actually meant anything was in the 1986087 Copa del Rey. Valencia were in the Segunda then, having been relegated the year before for the first time. Their coach was the legendary Alfredo Di Stefáno, and he was to lead them back to the Primera this season, but in the Copa, they lost to Villarreal on penalties—the match was played at El Madrigal and was tied 1-1 after regular time, 2-2 after extra time, before the Submarine won through.

Villarreal didn’t play a match in the famous Mestalla until April 1993, when the two teams met in the quarterfinal of the Copa. That didn’t go so well for Villarreal, as the home side ran out 6-0 winners, 8-1 on aggregate. I don’t know if the highlights are worth much, but there is some hilariously comical play in the buildup to the third goal and you can see what the Mestalla looked like then (all white seats around the pitch, for one thing):

Hard to believe that just six years later, Villarreal were in the Primera along with Valencia. It took five more years for Villarreal to get a win in the Mestalla: May 11, 2003 by a 2-1 score. The goals came from Jorge López (a penalty) and Farinós for us, and a Juan Sánchez penalty for them. Our ex-coach Javi Calleja was in our lineup; Rafa Benitez and Benito Floro were the managers.

In more recent times, Villarreal has had more success in the Mestalla, winning the last three matches: 2-0 in May 2016 (the last win Marcelino had with us), 3-1 in May 2017, and 1-0 in December 2017 (a Carlos Bacca goal; this was the game where both Simone Zaza and Manu Trigueros were sent off).

Overall, Villarreal are 6-3-9 at the Mestalla in La Liga; 0-1-2 in the Copa del Rey; and one loss in Europe, the 1-0 loss on a “penalty that never was” in the 2003-04 UEFA Cup semifinals.