Valencia vs Villarreal remains one of La Liga’s underrated derbies

Separated by just 61.9 kilometres, Valencia and Villarreal have plenty in common, but you wouldn’t know it come derby day.

Valencia and Villarreal share the same region, they represent the same flag on their badges and even proudly speak the same Valencian language.

But beyond their shared heritage, the two clubs are very different.

Valencia, the city club with a rich history, with many titles, each one pictured around the inner hoardings of Mestalla.

It’s a city club, a historically well-backed club with one of the biggest and most well-known stadiums in La Liga.

Though, recent times have not been kind to Los Ché, who have fallen from grace under much-maligned owner Peter Lim.

Then there’s Villarreal, a community club, one without a rich history of glory but one that has a track record of upsetting the odds.

They did so last season with the Europa League title, and while that was their first major title, the consistency in which this small town club has competed at the top of La Liga and among Europe’s elite has been astonishing.

Billionaire Fernando Roig is the man to thank. Make no mistake, Villarreal have had financial help in transforming their club, but this is not a story like that of Manchester City’s.

Valencia vs Villarreal

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Roig may be one of the wealthiest men in the region, but Villarreal still have never been able to compete financially with the top three or four teams in La Liga.

And in many ways, Villarreal fans are glad for that, glad to have an owner who has run the club the way the 50,000 or so people that make up the town of Vila-real would want him to.

Any way you slice it, these two clubs have much in common but the differences between them are stark.

On the pitch it is much the same, or at least in recent times.

Be it their La Liga success under Rafa Benitez or their current efforts under Jose Bordalas, Valencia have often played with pragmatism.

Villarreal, on the other hand, have focused on style. From the first team to the very lowest levels of their cantera, the Yellow Submarine teach possession, technique and how to look after the ball.

It hasn’t always worked to the same effect as the Valencia pragmatism, but fans would have it no other way.

This latest weekend was no different, though this time Valencia’s pragmatism did indeed reign supreme in Derbi de la Comunitat.


Valencia took the spoils in the latest derby

Bordalas’ men defeated Villarreal 2-0 thanks to goals from Hugo Guillamon and Carlos Soler.

The Yellows may have dominated possession to the tune of 75%, they may have played far more football than their hosts, but in this textbook clash of styles, it was Valencia who came out on top.

That’s not always the case. After all, Villarreal have been far more successful than their big neighbours over recent years, but here it was the home fans who were celebrating a derby win.

And make no mistake, this derby means a lot to both sets of supporters.

The Derbi de la Comunitat is not recognised as one of the biggest in Spain, in fact, La Liga hardly markets it amid the Madrid derby, El Clásico, the Basque derby, El Gran Derbi and the Valencia derby – which is played between city rivals Valencia and Levante.

But matchday around Mestalla or Estadio de le Ceramica come the day of Derbi de la Comunitat tells a very different story.

Police with riot gear and horses man every corner of the stadium, inside and out, while travelling supporters are routinely kept behind after the full-time whistle.

These two sets of fans – at least on derby day – simply don’t like each other, and it runs throughout the clubs themselves.

Villarreal owner Roig relishes this derby. He made it his mission to build a club that could surpass Valencia having grown up around the club, and he achieved it. There is always a point to prove for him in these games, and for the fans, too.

For Villarreal fans, this game represents an opportunity to show their big neighbours that the underdog is now dominant, while for Valencia, this is a chance to show why their club will always be the bigger and the better of the two.

It has everything you want to see from a derby, with no shortage of narratives, no shortage of entertainment and no shortage of tension inside and outside of the ground.

The Derbi de la Comunitat may not be top of La Liga’s advertising priorities in the same way others are, but it sure means a whole lot to people around these parts, and it’s always a game worth making the trip to the Valencian region for.

Tags Fernando Roig Jose Bordalas Peter Lim Unai Emery Valencia Villarreal