One Down, Three to Go!

By Andrew Gillenwaters

Villarreal CF
Villarreal CF
6 min readApr 14, 2023


How the Yellows’ first quarter of the year is shaping up

As we make our way into the month of April, it’s a good time to look back on the progress that has been made so far in 2023. Since the beginning of the year, the Yellow Submarine have fluctuated between 5th-10th place in LaLiga. This year has been nothing short of a challenge, but it has been a challenge that Villarreal CF has stepped up to to the best of their ability. It was a great start, as the Yellows coasted into the new year off of a 2–1 win against their closest neighbor, and rival, Valencia CF, on New Year’s Eve. It was also the first match for Villarreal to play in their newly renovated Estadio de la Cerámica. 2023 started off with a difficult challenge for LaLiga, as clubs were competing for the Copa Del Rey, and competing for their own league positioning at the same time.

Villarreal was able to take on their first cup match of the year on January 3rd, and defeat FC Cartagena, from the second division, 5–1 in the Copa Del Rey round of 32. Just four days later, on January 7th, the Yellow Submarine were able to sink powerhouse Real Madrid, 2–1 in league play, and take their second victory of the year. It was a hard-fought match, as the first half went scoreless. But Villarreal’s Yeremy Pino started the second half with a goal in under three minutes. After about 15 minutes, an unlucky handball gave Real Madrid an opportunity to equalize on a penalty kick, and the game was tied. Fortunately, a minute later, there was another handball on the other side of the field, and Villarreal got a penalty kick to take the game back into their own hands, and hold off the advances of Madrid for the remainder of the match to take home the victory.

After such a great performance against one of the best clubs in the world, Villarreal was to face Real Madrid, again, in the Copa Del Rey about a week and a half later, on the 19th. At halftime, the Yellows had the advantage, up 2–0, but Real Madrid came out swinging, and put three unanswered points on the board to end Villarreal’s run inthe Copa Del Rey in the round of 16. This loss may not have affected the league standings, but it did begin a very unfortunate five-game losing streak for the Yellow Submarine, losing their last two matches in the month of January, and not winning again until the 27th of February. Villarreal CF found themselves having dropped from the top five clubs in LaLiga to number ten in the table.

Villarreal turned the tables in their match against Getafe on the 27th, and began slowly working their way back up the standings. They’ve been hard at work to move their way back up into 6th place in LaLiga standings, thanks to their five-game streak without a loss, in league play, earning them a minimum of one point in each of their last five matches. One of their most recent conquests was taking down Real Sociedad, who is ranked #4 in LaLiga. The first half seemed to be all Real Sociedad, with Villarreal having very few opportunities to take control. As the half ended in a draw, it was unclear how the second half would go for the Yellows. Fortunately, they came out with a new energy. The beginning of the half was back and forth between the teams, but after a few substitutions for Villarreal after about 15 minutes of play, the tides shifted for the Yellow Submarine. They had several opportunities with the fresh legs of midfielder Giovani Lo Celso and striker Nicolas Jackson now in play. In the 76th minute, Samu Chukwueze was taken down in the penalty box, giving Dani Parejo a great opportunity to put Villarreal on the board. Just four minutes later, Nicolas Jackson was able to maneuver his way through defenders to put his team ahead by two, far too late in the game for Real Sociedad to do anything about it as the match ended.

Following one of the best performances of the season so far, Villarreal got their third shot at Real Madrid in 2023. It was a difficult match, going up against one of the biggest clubs in the world, and playing it in Real Madrid’s home stadium. Even with the match being played in Madrid, 700 Groguets made the 200+ mile journey to cheer on the Yellow Submarine. This match got off to a very rough start for the Yellows. On an attempted cross in front of the goal for Real Madrid, the ball took an unfortunate bounce off the leg of Pau Torres, scoring an own goal and putting Madrid ahead in only the 16th minute of the match.

Fortunately, Villarreal was able to get a goal back, thanks to a well placed pass from Lo Celso, and some fancy footwork from Samuel Chukwueze, before he put the ball in the net to equalize in the 39th minute. Real Madrid took the lead once again, less than three minutes into the second half, and things looked a little bleak for the Yellow Submarine for a while. A great corner kick opportunity presented itself in the 58th minute, but ultimately the goal was called off for offside. In the 70th minute, Samuel Chukwueze put a ball into the box, and it bounced around between several players on both sides before José Luis Morales was able to get his foot to it and, after a look at the goal from VAR, the score was level once again. Just ten minutes later, Chukwueze, once again, was able to take an incredible strike from outside the box, and put it in the far side of the net, out of reach from the goalkeeper, and Villarreal had their first lead of the match. In the 82nd minute, there was a handball called in the box against Villarreal, but was called off by VAR. After stoppage time ended, Villarreal was heading back home with a huge win on their side.

The huge wins against Real Sociedad and Real Madrid in the last two weeks have given Villarreal six points in the league table, and they have worked their way back into the top five teams in the league. They’ve been staring at the backs of Real Betis since before the match played against them, but have now been able to move up and take their place in the standings.

How will the rest of the season turn out for the Yellow Submarine? It’s very difficult to say, but after some of the outstanding performances they’ve given so far this season, and especially as of late, they will be a team to keep your eye on going forward. Endavant!