Club vice president José Manuel Llaneza took it a step further, stating that this year has been better than the subcampeonato in La Liga. Reaching the Copa del Rey quarterfinals and Europa League semifinals, in addition to a Champions League spot, provides ample room for debate. 90 minutes (or a Sevilla slip-up) away from mission accomplished for the 2010-11 season.
But spare a thought for UD Almería, only founded in 1989. Real Betis should take their place, so Andalucía will remain well-represented in the Primera. In four brief years in the top flight, Almería has produced such distinguished alumni as Álvaro Negredo (Sevilla), Felipe Melo (Juventus), and manager Unai Emery (Valencia). Current players Diego Alves (already signed by Valencia), Albert Crusat, and Pablo Piatti should add to the club's cachet around Europe.
A fond farewell to Almería, except to the Estadio de los Juegos Mediterráneos, built in 2004. Not only has Villarreal never won there (3 defeats in 3 tries), but both Marcos Senna and Santi Cazorla have been seriously injured on its pitch. Good riddance, at least for one year.
Garrido's 18-man squad:
Goalkeepers: Diego López & Mariño.
Defenders: Mario, Cicinho, Marchena, Musacchio, Joan Oriol, Catalá & Capdevila.
Midfielders: Borja Valero, Bruno, Senna, Santi Cazorla, Cani & Wakaso.
Forwards: Marco Ruben, Nilmar & Rossi.
Juan Carlos is a last-minute injury absence, so Diego Mariño will back up Diego López. Joan Capdevila returns from suspension, but he may not see action until the weekend.