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Villarreal Receiving High Praise

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Thanks to Kenez for pointing out this article by Sid Lowe in today's Guardian. I do not want to reprint the entirety of it here, because it is long and there are always copyright interests abounding, but it is a great, great piece. Add this to the treasure trove you keep of reasons why this club possesses your heart.

Open Sport this morning, just seven days [after Villarreal failed to beat Hercules and overtake Madrid for first], and there's the headline: "The alternative wears yellow." AS agreed: "Villarreal," writes Artiz Gabilondo, "are the only alternative to Madrid and Barcelona." They might have succumbed to the inevitable last Monday but they did win last night: 2-0 against fellow "alternatives" Atlético Madrid. By doing so they confirmed their best ever start, climbed above Barcelona into second on goal difference and positioned themselves a solitary point behind Real Madrid. They became one of only three teams to have won every home match alongside Madrid and Espanyol – and the only one to do so without conceding a single goal.

But if that sounds like they are boring, think again. They've scored more than anyone except Madrid – who've now hit a ludicrous 16 in their past three league matches – and two more than Barcelona. It's true that Villarreal got lucky last night, the referee Ramírez Domínguez denying Atlético one penalty because he decided it was half-time and another because he didn't see a trip on Agüero, but still they were impressive. AS called it an "ode to football", cooing: "marvellous, magnificent, a footballing symphony" and El País said they were "delicious". "Yes, it's true," ran their match report, "there is a team coming up behind those footballing locomotives Madrid and Barcelona: Villarreal, a delight of a team that builds passing triangles, that links up wonderfully, that moves like angels …"

And we played yesterday without one of our best playmakers in Borja Valero. The opportunity is there. This could be something very special.