Villarreal CF, who play Brisbane Roar in an LFP World Challenge game at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday, 3 June, are big achievers in one of the world’s most competitive leagues.
Although the club hails from the second smallest city in La Liga, it has the greatest proportion of members to population (36 per cent).
Villlarreal, nicknamed El Submarí Groguet (the Yellow Submarine) because of their bright all-yellow home kit, have been in Spain’s top competition for 16 seasons and repeatedly punch above their weight.
They finished sixth in this season’s La Liga to qualify for next season’s UEFA Europa League. It will be the 10th time they will contest a European trophy, including the 2005-06 UEFA Champions League.
The LFP World Challenge embraces five continents with the goal of celebrating Spanish football excellence and showcasing the country’s rich culture.
Villarreal clearly takes the LFP World Challenge seriously and has named a strong squad for their tour of Australia. In addition to next Wednesday’s game against the Roar, the Spaniards also play Adelaide United at the Adelaide Oval on Friday, 29 May.
The Villarreal CF touring party is: Goalkeepers: Juan Carlos Sánchez Martínez, Aitor Fernández Abarisketa; Defenders: Jaume Vicent Costa Jorda, Mario Gaspar Perez Martínez, Jose Antonio Dorado Ramírez, Antonio Rukavina, Cayetano Bartolomé Bonnin Vasquez, Víctor Ruiz Torre; Midfielders: Sergio Marcos Gonzalez, Tomás Pina Isla, Manuel Trigueros Munoz, Bruno Soriano Llido, Moises Gómez Bordonado, Jonathan Dos Santos Ramirez; Forwards: Luciano Dario Vietto, Giovani Dos Santos, Gerard Moreno Balaguero, Denis Tcherychev (Adelaide game only).
That squad includes six internationals – Bruno (Spain), Rukavina (Serbia), Tcherychev (Russia), Vasquez (Dominican Republic) and the Dos Santos brothers (Mexico). All the others are Villarreal first team regulars.
Several other internationals at the club, including Slovenian Bojan Jokic and Nigerian Ikechukwu Uche, were pencilled in to tour but were called up by their countries for national team duty in June.
The tour is a triumph for Villarreal captain Bruno, who only returned playing three weeks ago after more than two months on the sidelines with a broken leg.
Despite hailing from a smaller city than the homes of the legendary Real Madrid and Barcelona, Villarreal certainly are not content to stay in the shadows of La Liga’s super clubs and operate to the highest levels of professionalism to ensure they compete to their full potential.
The video above provides an insider’s view of the team’s typical match preparations. It was filmed in February during Villarreal’s visit to Austria to play FC Salzburg in the second leg of their UEFA Europa League Round of 32 clash.
Villarreal won the game 3-1 to take the tie 5-2 on aggregate, but crashed out of the tournament in the round of 16 against Sevilla FC.
Yesterday, Villarreal flew out of their hometown in a chartered jet amid high enthusiasm for their two games in Australia (see departure video attached to “Nico recalls rock star moment against Villarreal ace” story by clicking here).
The Villlarreal squad arrives in Brisbane on Sunday night and will spend time on the Gold Coast before heading to Brisbane next Wednesday.
Their Itinerary includes a visit to Brisbane’s GoMA where they will be hosted by officials from the Spanish embassy in Australia at a private function to showcase Spanish culture.
Tickets to next Wednesday’s match start from just $16 for children and $28 for adults (plus credit card and transaction fees). For more information or to book tickets click here.