Marcelino returns to the Vélodrome with a reborn Villarreal


Villarreal CF will visit Olympique de Marseille this Thursday (9:00 p.m.) for the first leg of the round of 16 in the Europa League, an event to which Marcelino García Toral’s team will arrive after moving far away from the relegation places in LaLiga EA Sports and with the dream of emulating his 2020/21 campaign, when he won the title of this same tournament.

At the Orange Vélodrome Stadium, the ‘groguet’ team will return to European competition more than two months later. It will be the first time in history that both clubs meet in an official match and will be encouraged by the return of Marcelino, current coach of the ‘Yellow Submarine’, which was briefly his home at the beginning of this season.

Villarreal has left behind the problems that hampered its performance at the beginning of the season, even flirting with relegation spots. But in recent games, Villarreal has shown the true potential of the team, going seven games without losing, with notable victories in fields such as the Reale Arena (1-3) or the Estadi Lluís Companys (3-5), also beating Granada in their last league match at the Estadio de la Cerámica (5-1).

In addition, Marcelino will have the extra motivation of being able to defeat the team in which he started the season and from which he left due to pressure from its most radical fans. An Asturian coach seems to have found the key to make the ‘Submarino’ competitive, especially improving its defensive capacity. Villarreal has gone from conceding almost three goals per game this season to, in the last five games, conceding four.

In front of them they will have an adversary on the rise. Despite being out of the European positions in Ligue 1, the team from the south of France has had three consecutive victories in which it has managed to score 12 goals, an average of four goals per game. Furthermore, when it comes to playing in front of their fans, OM noticeably improves their performance and has not yet been defeated at the Vélodrome this season. In the specific case of the Europa League this season, the performance of the French has been four wins and one draw.

An improvement in offensive performance that is supported by the good moment that the team’s reference forward, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, is going through. The Gabonese player is Marseille’s top scorer this season with 17 goals, seven of them in the Europa League, where in addition to being their all-time top scorer with 31 goals, he is also their top scorer this season. Furthermore, in his last five games he has pierced the rival goal five times, so the ‘groguet’ defense will have to pay close attention to him.

Regarding Villarreal’s record against French teams, in Europe it is positive. He has faced them so far on 10 occasions, with a record of four wins, two draws and four losses; In the specific case of away games, the ‘groguet’ team has won two, tied one and lost two. The most recent precedent, this season in the group stage, resulted in two victories for the ‘Submarino’ against Stade Rennais.

Marcelino could refresh his starting eleven at the Vélodrome with Francis Coquelin, Santi Comesaña, Ilias Akhomach and Gonçalo Guedes, the first three suffering from a virus during the week, and all of them substitutes against Granada; In addition, Raúl Albiol, Alfonso Pedraza, Yeremy Pino, Denis Suárez, Ramón Terrats and Juan Foyth are out due to injury. For its part, OM will not be able to count on the injured Rubén Blanco, Samuel Gigot, Amir Murillo, Bilal Nadir and Valentin Rongier.