Two years ago, after a season in the Champions League, Villarreal were relegated after a late Radamel Falcao goal sunk the Yellow Submarine deep into the Spanish second-tier. Today, Villarreal are back in Europe and look capable of competing against anyone, as they have shown this season against the likes of Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Sergio Asenjo, Giovanni dos Santos and Tomas Pina were some of the names which arrived at the club in the summer and the season could not have started any better, with the Castellon outfit unbeaten in the first six games. That run included wins in the first three matches and a memorable draw against Real Madrid which could have ended in a win had it not been for the heroics of ex-player Diego Lopez.
The season continued to flourish and at the half way point came a 5-1 thrashing of Champions League outfit Real Sociedad with Marcelino’s side sitting fifth in the table mid-way through the campaign.
The second half of the season saw Villarreal under focus for the wrong reasons. Disaster loomed as a tear gas canister was thrown onto the pitch against Celta Vigo, yet thankfully it all ended in a scare. Villarreal were again in the spotlight shortly after when a banana was thrown at Dani Alves during the match against Barcelona, sparking outrage but also an anti-racism campaign as Alves ate the banana, which he later said gave him the energy he needed to end the match.
Villarreal ended the season in sixth after a perhaps weaker second half of the year which but they were still able to qualify for Europe only a year after being promoted. This was arguably one of the best seasons in the history of the club, only be overpowered by the Champions League Villarreal of Manuel Pellegrini and Juan Roman Riquelme.