x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Garrido's Yellow Submarine is taking on water

Something is seriously amiss for Villarreal, regular top-four finishers and Champions League performers, given their poor defensive record this season.

Something is seriously amiss at Villarreal.

The Yellow Submarines, regular top-four finishers and Champions League performers in the past decade, have had a draw and two defeats in their first three league games including a loss at Granada on Saturday as the promoted side picked up their first top-flight points since the 1970s.

Only Osasuna, who conceded eight to Barcelona, have a worst defensive record than Villarreal, who lost their Spanish internationals Santo Cazorla and Joan Capdevila in the summer.

There was little in the way of incoming transfers, with Cristian Zapata, the Colombian defender, the biggest arrival, from Udinese.

Villarreal's problems are numerous. Their captain Marcos Senna is 35, while their usually prolific striker and last season's top scorer Giuseppe Rossi looks disaffected after a close-season transfer to a bigger club failed to materialise. Fernando Roig, the club president and benefactor, seems permanently angry – and with some justification – at the disparity in how television money is distributed.

A fourth-place finish last season saw them struggle through the qualifiers to the group stage of the Champions League, where they were beaten comprehensively at home by Bayern Munich in the first group game. That was a poor start in the tournament's toughest group which also features Manchester City and Napoli.

Villarreal have suffered from slow starts before but their class and solid football philosophy has usually won through. However, the early signs do not look good.

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