Spaniard Inigo Calderon says Albion’s pre-season opponents Villarreal are a unique club.The 31-year-old has praised the Spanish club’s rise in the mid-2000s and says they are magnificently supported despite the small population of Villarreal.
He told, “They are a special club because the city is not massive, it is quite a small town, but they surprised everyone and were – for three or four years - only behind Barcelona and Madrid, so they were a very good established side.
“Their stadium is probably bigger than the capacity of the city and I am sure if you go to Villarreal when they are playing at home, nobody is in the town!
“So when they made the Champions League it was a surprise but it was an even bigger surprise when they were relegated from La Liga in 2012 because they played such good football and had some very talented players.”
The full-back also feels the Yellow Submarines’s European form affected their performances in La Liga but says the club has come out stronger on the other side.
“Sometimes when you play in the Champions League then you lose the form in your own league, but we never thought they would be relegated, although thankfully for them it was just for one year and they have come straight back up.
“It is not easy to bounce back straight away. People expect you to go straight back up but it is a lot harder than people realise to do that, but they did, and I think they have learned a lot from that experience and will come back better than before.
“When they were relegated it was like Tottenham or Arsenal being relegated in England, one of the top six going to the Championship. It was a shock.”
Meanwhile Albion have a perfect record so far in pre-season but Calderon has quelled the importance of the result on Saturday.
“I don’t know how long they have been training or how hard their training has been so far, and for a pre-season game it is more important what you do before the game and after the game.
“It depends if you have been working two training sessions really hard the day before or if you have had a lighter session.
“So we know it is not the case that if we win the match then we can go and play in La Liga, but it is a good thing to being facing them.
“I like to play against La Liga sides to compare the styles and I am sure it will be a good game to watch and to play in.”

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