Villarreal is approaching a week full of highlight and under the spotlight. with everything to be decided still. Emery will field his team on Saturday (11AM CST) against Real Madrid at Valdebebas with a chance to finish fifth, sixth or seventh; four days later, The Yellow Submarine will measure up against Manchester United for their first true trophy ever in the Europa League.
Due to the multiple options Villarreal is managing based on what happens that last La Liga week, we at Villarrealnews thought it would be helpful to explain the different scenarios that could play out.
Matches of interest this Saturday:
- Real Madrid vs Villarreal (7th)
- Celta de Vigo vs Betis (6th)
- Osasuna vs Real Sociedad (5th)
Basically, there are two sets of outcomes: If Villarreal win the Europa League, La Liga’s finish doesn’t matter when it comes to European competition. If they don’t, several possible options comes into play.
If Villarreal wins the Europa League: Emery’s men will qualify to the Champions League for the 2021/22 season, regardless of what they end up doing in La Liga. Spain will then have five teams in the Champions League next season.
If Villarreal loses: The scenarios are varied–multiple things could happen if La Liga is the only path for the Yellow Submarine to play in Europe next year.
- Europa Conference League: Villarreal has, at the very least, already ensured his participation in this competition. The worst case scenario is that they play the Conference League if they either lose to Real Madrid, tie but Betis AND Real Sociedad tie or win, or win–but Betis AND Real Sociedad win as well.
- Europa League: Villarreal could qualify to the second tier of European competition if:
- They tie against Real Madrid, and Betis lose. A tie would not do anything to place above Real Sociedad as they have the direct goal average tied, and the overall goal average that counts after that is +20 for Sociedad and +17 for Villarreal. However, if Celta de Vigo beats Betis at home and Villarreal manages a point in Valdebebas, Villarreal will end the season in sixth position.
- They beat Real Madrid, and Betis OR Real Sociedad don’t win: Villarreal could even finish fifth in this scenario. A win against Zidane’s team would mean Villarreal would end fifth if both Betis AND Real Sociedad don’t win, or sixth if only one of them wins. A win in Madrid is unlikely as Real is playing for their only title chance this season, but everything is possible.
Other news from the past couple of days as we inch closer to the final in Gdansk:
- It seems as Rulli will play the Europa League final after all. Even though Asenjo had been featuring in the last few La Liga matches (and done so quite well actually), our own research showed that Emery usually gives the Europa League goalkeeper the chance to play the final too–even if it means that player has a 2-3 week break between semifinal and final. It happened with Beto and Soria at Sevilla in two of the three finals Emery won down South. He confirmed it in yesterday’s press conference: Rulli will be on goal on the 26th.
- Juan Foyth is also likely to play next Wednesday, Samu is unlikely. The Argentinean showed at training on Tuesday and even conducted exercises with the team for about 15 minutes. He is looking fit and will use every bit of the next seven days to get ready for the final.
- Chukwueze is looking less likely to feature–it will likely be a day-of decision. Much like Manchester United’s Harry Maguire, actually. There were soem false accounts that he was ready to go and training–that’s not the case.
- Carlos Bacca was front and center this week after his hat-trick against Sevilla last weekend in La Liga. The Colombian has one year left in his contract, and the rumors are he may look for another team where he can play more this summer. A lot of chatter ensured this week as well around whether he or Paco Alcacer should start against Manchester United. Some are saying Alcacer should play as he is the higher-caliber player, but others are asking for Carlos to start as he is the one who is in form. Whoever you see playing against Real Madrid, will likely feature on Wednesday.
- The numbers don’t lie though: Bacca has nine goals in all competitions this season, scoring a goal every 145 minutes; Alcacer has scored 12 goals in 2020/21, but he has done so through seeing more playing time–a goal every 177 minutes. He does link up with the team better though, as he has assisted in five occasions, against two by the Colombian.
- On the 15th of this month, we celebrated the 24th anniversary of Fernando Roig’s purchase of the majority stake of Villarreal. If you’d like to know more about Roig’s tenure in Vila-real, check out my piece on his life with the club here.