Villarreal returns to Europe after the inferno of the Segunda. First team drawn in the pot, and the Yellow Submarine is paired with Borussia Monchengladbach, FC Zurich, and Apollon Limassol.
I'm running to work, but Villarreal has been drawn in Group A of the 2014-15 Europa League.
Pot 2: Borussia Monchengladbach (Germany)
Pot 3: FC Zurich (Switzerland)
Pot 4: Apollon Limassol (Cyprus)
My initial reaction:
Gladbach is one of the teams I wanted to avoid -- Germany is a tough place to play, and they have quite a few solid players. Former Atletico Madrid defender Alvaro Dominguez and U.S. international Fabian Johnson spearhead their defense. Gladbach will push us to top the group.
Zurich is from an up-and-coming league, and I like Swiss football. But it's a short trip, they don't have the same home-field advantage of a southern European team, and there isn't anyone to frighten you in their squad. Be mindful of young striker Mario Gavranovic (who used to play in Germany) and defender Francisco Rodriguez, the younger brother of Swiss international Ricardo (who used to play for Zurich).
Apollon has the aforementioned home-field edge in front of the crazy Cypriot fans. Marcos Gullon will return to El Madrigal -- one of my all-time favorites. And former Sporting striker Gaston Sangoy is a co-captain, but this team is a notch below the Yellow Submarine in terms of quality. Cyprus is an up-and-coming league as well, though.
Take it away, folks. What do you think of Villarreal's draw? It's very important to win the group to avoid the best drop-down Champions League teams. Endavant!