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Villarreal History: B team promoted to Segunda, June 2009

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Athletic Club v Villarreal CF - La Liga
Super Mario now.
Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

We focus a lot on the first team, of course, but Villarreal’s B team has had plenty of history too, none bigger than their promotion to the Segunda from the Segunda B, in June 2009.

This was the first year of the same relegation and promotion model that’s still in place. Villarreal B and Alcoyano had fought hard for the championship of Segunda B, Group 3, with Alcoyano coming out on top by one point, 73 to 72. Villarreal bested Zamora, fourth in Group 1, 4-0 on aggregate in the first round of the playoffs, then they defeated Lorca, second in group 2, 4-2 on aggregate. Now to win promotion they needed to defeat the second-placed team in group 4, Real Jaén, who had taken care of Leganés and Ponferradina to get to this point.

This Villarreal B squad was coached by Juan Carlos Garrido, who had taken over the year before when Juan Carlos Oliva was sacked, and led the team to safety. The 2008-09 edition of Villarreal B featured some solid young talent—Juan Carlos (age 21) in goal, fullbacks Joan Oriol (22) and Mario Gaspar (18), and midfielders Javi Matilla (20) and Marcos Gullón (19). Up front, they had more experience, and were led by 26 year-old Chando, who had 23 goals, and Joan Tomas (23), with 18. Gerard Bordas (27) had 10 goals as well.

The first leg finished 0-0 at El Madrigal, so Jaén fans were excited as they welcomed the Mini Submarine to their Nuevo La Victoria ground on June 21. The Andalusian weather was hot and windy, and the ground was full of fans hoping the home side would get back to the Segunda for the first time since 2002.

If you watch the whole match, you’ll see that both teams had strong chances to score right off the bat, but then things settled down. Jaén took the lead just after the half-hour mark with a headed goal at the far post, Oriol losing his man. A key play of the game happened about 10 minutes later (41 minutes into the half) —a Joan Tomás shot was parried by the keeper, the ball was recovered in midfield and Matilla chipped a ball to Gerard Bordas. He touched the ball past the onrushing keeper, and while surely a Jaén defender would clear the slowly-moving ball of the line—wouldn’t he?—he....didn’t, somehow missing his clearance altogether. 1-1 at halftime, then.

The first fifteen minutes of the second half were exciting—Juan Carlos was always a bit of an adventurist in goal and Jaén had a good chance to score in the 57th minute but the shot was cleared off the line. Villarreal then wasted a 3 on 2 opportunity before a cross was met at the near post by Chando and Villarreal had a 2-1 lead. Needing two goals, Jaén really weren’t able to do much; Villarreal had chances to get a third but didn’t. No matter, they were promoted.

Epilogue:

Garrido, of course, took over as Villarreal’s first team coach from Ernesto Valverde in early 2010, was fired in December 2011, and has coached in the Middle East and Saharan Africa since then—he’s currently with a club in Morocco.

Most of these players were part of the 2009-10 Villarreal B team that finished seventh. Chando was not; his spot was taken by Marco Ruben; Natxo Insa, Jefferson Montero and a young Mario Musacchio joined that year too.

Villarreal B were relegated back to the Segunda B when Villarreal’s first team was relegated in 2012; although the first team got back the next year, the B team is still trying to win promotion, having failed in the playoffs three times.

As for the players with the 2008-09 B team, Mario Gaspar is still with Villarreal, 11 years later. Some of the rest are still active: Juan Carlos (Numancia, though no longer a first-choice keeper), Joan Oriol (Lleida Esportiu), Javi Matilla (Aris Salonika), Cristóbal (Fuenlabrada), Marcos Gullón (SS Reyes), Joan Tomás (Lamia, Greece), David Lazaro (Tudelano), Juanfran (Alanyaspor, Turkey), Rafa Gimeno (Saguntino), Salva Chamorro (Mar Menor), Oscar Prats (La Nucia), José Carrasco (Linense), Angel Ortega (Roda). Chando was (not sure if he still is) a coach for Mallorca’s second team this fall.

Of those, Joan Tomás appeared briefly with us in the Primera, and played for Celta a couple of years at the top level as well; Matilla was with Betis for awhile. Gerard Bordas actually got 13 minutes of Champions league action with us along with 43 minutes of Primera action, but spent most of his time with the B team, eventually moving to Girona and fading away.

Apart from Mario Gaspar, the only member of that 2008-09 squad team still active in the Primera is Kiko Olivas, who was a sometime starter and is currently at Real Valladolid—where, oddly enough, he plays with Javi Moyano, who as far as I can tell is the only member of that 2008-09 Jaén squad who made it to the Primera.

Jaén did win promotion in 2013 and spent 2013-14 in the Segunda, but lasted only the one season, were relegated to the Tercera in 2017 — and are still there.