Vibrant Villarreal Going for Europa League Victory
The Discovery of the Yellow Submarine
Villarreal is a wonderful story in Spanish football. The town of Vila-real has a population which could fit into the entirety of Old Trafford. All in all, the town has just over 50,000 residing in the area close by the city of Valencia.
Much of their growth is due to the current Real Betis manager Manuel Pellegrini, who brought his South American flavour to the formerly named El Madrigal stadium to great success. Meanwhile, the likes of Juan Ramon Riquelme, Diego Forlan and Marcos Senna were the key components for year on year high times. There were notable achievements of regularly beating the top teams of the league. Still to this day, no team relishes a trip to their tightly compact home ground.
A Base to Success
It is a club built on solid foundations and a strong business sense thanks to their President Fernando Roig. His ceramic industry has fuelled the club to be a model of football sustainability. It is a club which is as beautiful and colourful as its ceramic background. Even the stadium is known as the Ceramic Stadium and last year was given a face lift with ceramic touches.
Road to Europa League Glory for Villarreal
The Spanish’s clubs journey to the final started with a group which included Maccabi Tel-Aviv, Sivasspor and Qarabag. They topped their Group to reach the round of 32 for the eighth time in the tournament.
From there on, their route map took in victories over Salzburg, Dynamo Kyiv and Dinamo Zagreb. After that, the team arrived to the semi-finals stage to set a date with Arsenal. Two entertaining and dramatic games were ultimately won by Villarreal (2-1 at home, 0-0 away).
The mastermind behind their run is one Unai Emery, who will have enjoyed getting one over on his former club to make the final. He will take most pleasure from the fact that his side are unbeaten in Europe this season with 11 wins and two draws. The manager has a penchant for this tournament having won it three times in a row with Sevilla. He was also a runner up with Arsenal in 2019, losing out to Chelsea 4-1.
Villarreal’s Main Protagonists
The team have shone throughout the season thanks to a strong team ethic and entertaining flair. However, their team is built on the backbone of their goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli, who has been at the club since last summer.
He has made 12 appearances in the tournament with six clean sheets. Raul Albiol is their leader in defence and is still at the top of his game at 35 years old. Meanwhile, the former Valencia, Real Madrid and Napoli veteran defender brings organisation and game management to the team.
He has been a key driving force towards their final march with ten games and two goals. The signing of Dani Parejo from coastal rivals Valencia has been a big success. His midfield vision and skill has enhanced the team. He has 11 goals and two assists in Europe.
The Striker’s Alliance Firing Villarreal to the Polish Promise Land
Villarreal’s journey to the final in Poland is thanks in large to the goals from their forward line. Their top scorer is striker Gerard Moreno, who has 23 goals in 32 games overall. In this tournament, he has managed six goals in 11 games with four assists.
In addition, he is Spain’s current number one striker for club and country. Moreno represents a danger from all angles and scores all types of goals with headers and volleys. Similarly, his fellow strike partner Paco Alcacer is just as determining in the box with six goals in nine Europe League games. The former Borussia Dortmund target man has vast experience and gives Villarreal another focal point up front.
Villarreal and Manchester United Head to Head in Showpiece Europa League Final
Dating back to their first encounter in September 2005, of all four previous matches between the two sides, remarkably every one has finished 0-0. Therefore, many will be hopeful for goals in their latest match up in Gdansk.
This past week has been one of, if not, the most important weeks in the club’s history. They started the previous week by thrashing high-flying Sevilla, Emery’s former club, 4-0. It was also a welcome return for supporters with over 5,000 fans returning to their stadium.
After, that was their final regular game of the season. Villarreal faced La Liga title chasers Real Madrid. The game finished with a narrow 2-1 defeat in which Villarreal led and put out a strong squad despite their showpiece final just days later. That defeat meant the Yellow Submarine finished in 7th place and currently hold a Europa Conference place. However, the club have the carrot of the Champions League in their sights should they prevail on Wednesday. Villarreal are firmly focussed on lifting a milestone European crown.
The club take their place in the main event as the 16th different team in Europa League showpiece finales. Meanwhile, the team arrive to their maiden final in bright spirits and a fully fit squad to choose from. On their day, playing to their potential and with the talent and experience at their disposal, they have every chance to achieve a landmark title.
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