Bravo Villarreal, who have saved Spanish football’s pride! Bravo Villarreal, who have had the monkey on their back of Riquelme’s missed penalty for far too long! Bravo Villarreal, who have broken the Premier League’s monopoly this season! With Chelsea and Manchester City in the Champions League final, and Manchester United completing the job against Roma in the first leg (6-2), Villarreal hung on against an Arsenal side who only needed one goal to go through, and in so doing broke the Premier League’s hegemony on European football this season. Villarreal deserved a better result in the first leg than the dangerous 2-1 they travelled with. And yesterday they deserved the draw that saw them through.
Villarreal first European final
So they’ll be in Gdansk, their first European final, against Manchester United. If they win it, LaLiga will have five teams in next year’s Champions League, another reason to get excited about the game. This European final, pursued over the years by the club, is the prize for a project planned so many years ago by Fernando Roig, a successful businessman and great lover of football. The club is a small, well-run ship, where everyone knows what they are doing and how to do it. An example of harmony and efficiency, which explains how such a small city can have such a big club.
Yesterday they had their nervous moments, of course. The 2-1 at La Cerámica, which deserved to be 3-0, meant they were exposed last night: a solitary unanswered goal from the home side would put them out. In the first half they defended with possession in the opposition half, threatening at times to score. In the second half Arsenal increased the pressure little by little and the visitors had some serious scares. And a few utter panics when Rulli came charging wildly out. But the team held on, the post did its job with the hosts best chance (just as with the only chance of the first half) and the team, holding onto the incredible Albiol made it to shore. Bravo Villarreal!