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Yellow Submarine Hosts the Blaugrana: Insights From Our Rivals

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Not sure how many of you fellow Blaugranes know this, but the SB Nation family welcomed its second La Liga member. They are supporters of Villarreal CF and they have a shiny new site, VillarrealUSA, that everybody should check out. They came out of the gate running and in the wake of Saturdays (double) Villarreal vs Barcelona match-up came to us with a proposal to do a joint article.

So we exchanged a handful of question and both crews showed very good knowledge about their respective teams. You will find their answers to our question after the jump, but you should also check out the interesting questions our friends posed to us.

Who from the Villarreal B team, do you think has the most exciting future ahead of him?
Of the players on the team now, midfielder Iago Falque (who came through La Masia) is the obvious choice-- he's a good attacking winger with excellent dribbling and shooting skills. But I think midfielder Marcos Gullon might be the pick of the bunch. He's technically gifted, defensively sound, and arguably the best player on this year's B team (and its captain to boot). There are others too-- Paraguayan midfielder Hernan Perez, Danish striker Nicki Bille Nielsen, and Spanish under-21 goalkeeper Diego Marino-- but Falque and Gullon are the two I would pick.

 

Both of our B teams (Villarreal B and Barcelona B) are currently thriving in Segunda División, do you think that either side could finish in the top 4? And if so, do you think they should get a suitable reward (promotion)?
This year, Rayo Vallecano, Real Betis, and Celta Vigo certainly deserve the top three places. I don't think either filial will finish in the top four, mostly because they don't have the incentive of promotion to do so. Additionally, with all of the games that both first teams have left, there are bound to be injury call-ups.

 

I don't really see a way to reward a B team with promotion, though it exists in the Turkish league, among others, with mixed results. And the famous Real Madrid-Castilla Copa del Rey final is not too far in the past (1980). It would be amazing if a filial could achieve promotion, but can you imagine the conspiracy theories that the madridista press would fabricate?  I think that there would be too many opportunities to use a B team to help the A side (head-to-head, resting players, etc.).

A lot has been mentioned about the great job that Garrido has done this season, do you see the team ever challenging the duopoly of Barcelona and Real Madrid and do you think he could be considered as the next Real Madrid coach should Mourinho leave?
I think that for Villarreal (or any other team) to consistently challenge the big two, they need to have greater and more stable financial resources. One bad year cannot torpedo a club's long-term progression (pardon the pun). Villarreal owner Fernando Roig recently said that an additional 20 million euros per year from TV rights would permit the club to be fully competitive. The key is to be seen as a destination team, not a mere stepping stone on the way to a bigger club.

As for Garrido, he has done well, though his Achilles heel has been the inability to motivate the squad to mow down vastly inferior teams, and I can't imagine that would go over well in Madrid. I don't think he would be too interested in Real Madrid-- he is a local guy, his brother is an assistant coach, he loves the Villarreal setup-- and he saw what happened to Manuel Pellegrini when he moved to the capital. Madrid might bandy his name about, but Garrido doesn't have the big-game experience or the big name they will be looking for, at least at this point.

 

It remains to be seen whether Bojan, Messi or Pedro will play in addition to the loss of Xavi and Puyol, so do you think Villarreal could win on Saturday?
Sure, Villarreal could win, and it's probably our best chance to do so, with Xavi and some front-line defenders out of the lineup. We've been playing well against first-rate teams, and we usually play Barca pretty tight. Villarreal received a lot of praise for its play at Camp Nou, but most of us felt that it was a sub-par performance, particularly in the creative midfield. If the Yellow Submarine is on its game and receives strong support from the El Madrigal faithful, I think this is a good chance to take all three points.

What do you think of the rumors linking Rossi, Borja and even Nilmar with a move to the Camp Nou?
I wish they would go away(!). Any time one of our players has a good game, there's an article the next week linking him with a move to Barca, Real Madrid, England and/or Italy. I can't see one of our key players moving unless, as Srs. Roig and Llaneza have said, either the deal is too good to turn down or it's a swap that immediately improves the team. That being said, a summer exodus is not out of the question, as money talks.

With this week's strike scare (barely) averted do you see a solution how the League should try to resolve the money issues that have been main issues for several years now?
There are two fundamental problems:
(1) the big two have so much more money that there is no title race;
(2) once you get past the top half of La Liga, the rest is struggling to survive, much less compete for Europe. And it's even worse in the Segunda.

Here is my proposal:
(1) LFP needs to negotiate TV rights as a league and distribute the money similar to the EPL (as the big two have most of the market share, there inevitably will be a greater degree of inequality). I think it's likely that the system the league has adopted, in which four teams get a defined share of the money, will be held to be anti-competitive if the G-6 tries to stop it in the European courts, as it surely will. The G-6 proposal probably gives too much weight to success on the pitch and not enough to market share, but there is wiggle room for a workable approach.
(2) La Liga needs to deduct points for financial irregularities or administration.
(3) A share of the pot needs to trickle down to help some of the smaller Segunda teams. And parachute payments would help to solve, but not completely fix, the Segunda's problems.
(4) The Copa del Rey needs to be changed so that it is worth competing for if a side is not qualified for Europe. Playing most ties over one leg would be a good start (as would greater monetary incentives)!

I think the strike fiasco showed that at least six clubs were willing to break the "united" front and make things happen. But I don't know if the rest of the league (especially Barca, the Madrid duo, and Valencia) is more open to negotiation and persuasion as a result of what has happened.

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