Europa reward for touring Villarreal


Spanish aces Villarreal will take on Brisbane Roar next month buoyed by the knowledge they have secured a place in the UEFA Europa League next season.

The Yellow Submarine clinched its spot courtesy of a 1-0 win over Elche in their La Liga clash at the Estadio El Madrigal last Sunday.

Costa Rican Joel Campbell, who is having an outstanding season while on loan from Arsenal, scored Villarreal’s winner in the 26th minute when he nodded into the goal from close range.

The result meant Marcelino Garcia Toral’s side has secured sixth place in La Liga. Villarreal are seven points clear of seventh-placed Malaga with just two rounds remaining.

With a Spanish court on Thursday suspended the threat of a mooted La Liga player strike, Villarreal’s remaining two games before they head to Australia are at home to Malaga CF on 17 May and away to eighth-placed Athletic Bilbao on 24 May.

The Spaniards play the Roar at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday, 3 June, as part of the global LFP World Challenge. The tour also includes a game against Adelaide United on Friday, 29 May.

The Roar players have had some time off after their Hyundai A-League Finals Series and AFC Champions League campaigns ended earlier this month. They resumed training last  Thursday as they build towards the much-anticipated game against Villarreal.

Roar defender Jerome Polenz said the players were looking forward to taking on the talented Spaniards.

“Villarreal plays in one of the best leagues in Europe and the Spanish style of football is one of the best in the world, so it will be interesting to see how we compete against them,” Polenz said.

“We hope to get something out of this game. Looking to next season, this match will be a good measure of our level of football and any areas we need to work on during the pre-season.”

Villarreal will bring a strong squad to Australia and it could include their captain Bruno Soriano, who made his comeback last weekend after nearly three months on the sidelines.

Bruno broke the fibula in his right leg during a Copa del Rey semi-final against Barcelona on 12 February.

Missing from the Villarreal squad will be goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo, who ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament a 1-0 La Liga loss to champions Atletico Madrid two weeks ago. It is the third time the 25-year-old Asenjo has injured his knee and the injury came as he was having his best-ever season for the club.

The setback was the second major injury blow for the club in a month after Villarreal’s Argentine central defender Mateo Musacchio broke his ankle against Getafe on April 12.

Tickets to Brisbane Roar versus Villarreal at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday, 3 June, start from just $16 for kids and $28 for adults (plus credit card and transaction fees). For more information or to book tickets click here.