A new manager, two midfielders, a fresh goalkeeper, and a different high value loanee. Villarreal’s squad has seen its share of changes this offseason but will it result in better results? What should Villarreal fans expect from the squad as the new season kicks off? We discuss that here.
I would absolutely love to see Villarreal in the Champions League places. I’m also brutally realistic. We were ten points out of the UCL spots last season and all told I am not sure we can say we have gained ground on Sevilla. The departures of Santi Cazorla and Zambo Anguissa are going to leave their mark on our ability to create offense, and even though I think the additions of Kubo, Parejo, and Coquelin make us more balanced, there is a lot of offensive output that needs replacing there.
On paper, Kubo and Parejo in particular can make up for that. Combined, they put out a similar number of shot creating actions per 90 that Zambo and Santi did last year, but Unai Emery will have to form them into part of a cohesive unit here at Villarreal to get those results.
Realistically, I don’t think we made up ten points worth of difference on Sevilla in the transfer market. They lost Ever Banega, but the return of Ivan Rakitic and the arrival of Oscar Rodriguez will help there, and while Reguilon is going back to Real Madrid (presumably to be sold somewhere else) Escudero is pretty good as well. I think the most likely outcome of this league season is that we finish in fifth place again. I would say, however, that this is quite dependent on us finding another CB before the window closes.
It’s worth noting that last season, against teams that were ultimately relegated, we had three losses. We also lost to 17th place Celta Vigo. With newly promoted Huesca to open the season, one of the keys to Unai Emery’s reign being an actual improvement will be whether he can take care of business against relatively weak opposition.
This is what Unai Emery is here for. In a knockout competition, much depends on matchups, but frankly I expect at least a semi-final in this competition and I would like to win it. I think the ‘ambition’ that Villarreal has shown in the market has mostly been simply replacing what we’ve lost and taking advantage of Meriton FC hating their own fans, but nonetheless we let Javi Calleja go after a great run of form to close the season and this competition is where Emery has to justify that decision.
Copa Del Rey
We absolutely blew an incredible chance to be in a Copa Semi-Final or better last season. I seriously doubt we will make it that deep in the competition without facing Primera competition again. It’s one of the reasons why I was ultimately fine with Calleja being let go. But frankly, unless you are FC Barcelona, this competition is a minefield for everybody year in and year out. All I want from the Copa Del Rey is if we go out, at least let us go out to another quality top flight side not some minnow from the second tier.
No worse than fifth place, no worse than a European semi-final, and not losing to a lower tier side in the Copa Del Rey. It’s actually slightly less than what we accomplished under Marcelino in 2015-2016, and I see no reason why Unai Emery can’t get it done this year with the amount of experience and talent he has on this roster.
So what do you think? What should be our expectations for this season?