"When you have been in the Segunda División you value everything more," Bruno Soriano told UEFA.com, with Villarreal CF having come back with a vengeance.
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In just two and a half years, Villarreal CF have recovered from relegation to Spain's second flight, returning to the Liga and qualifying for the UEFA Europa League.
The Yellow Submarine have just rounded off a remarkable 2014 by recording five straight league wins to go fifth in the table – having also reached the UEFA Europa League round of 32, where they will meet FC Salzburg. Midfielder Bruno Soriano has spent his entire career at Villarreal, and the 30-year-old told UEFA.com about the club's remarkable journey.
UEFA.com: Have you been surprised by how good Villarreal have been this season?
Bruno Soriano: We know that we have some very good players and if we play at 100% we'll make things difficult for any side. We have to keep taking it step by step and keep accumulating points. We also are very excited about the UEFA Europa League and our upcoming tie with Salzburg. We're all enjoying the run of form and hope it can last, because at the moment we are playing very well.
UEFA.com: What did you think of Villarreal's progress in the UEFA Europa League group stage?
Bruno Soriano: We were very pleased with how we did. We played a very powerful team in Borussia Mönchengladbach and we matched them in both games. That is satisfying because we know we can compete against any team. We are also very strong at home, so with that knowledge, we can be very competitive over two legs, and we hope to go further.
UEFA.com: You seem to be coach Marcelino's main enforcer on the pitch. Would that be fair?
Bruno Soriano: I've spent a long time at Villarreal and the coach trusts me so that's why he asks me to be a good influence on the pitch. I try and do that as best I can. I don't think of myself as being better or worse than anyone, but I always try and help the younger players adapt for the greater good of the group.
UEFA.com: Villarreal are being held up as a model club; how does it feel to captain a team like this?
Bruno Soriano: People like watching us play because I think we play good football. People at home want to watch Villarreal because they know they're going to see a good game, and that makes us very happy. We have always done things well here. I even think that getting relegated to the Segunda División was good for everyone to take stock of a lot of things. It made us stronger.
UEFA.com: Are these recent successes even more satisfying with that in mind?
Bruno Soriano: When you have been in the Segunda División you value everything more. A year in the Segunda may seem short, but it felt like a very long time. There were a lot of games and it was very stressful because spending another year in the division wouldn't have been good for us or the club. But we completed our objective and now we really value being in the first division and are in a very good position.