Villarreal's first friendly may not have gone well on the pitch, and the weather in Ireland has been pretty cold and wet by all accounts, but I think the team really enjoys Carton House as a place to get together and begin training in earnest.
But now, the team has left Ireland and headed to Scotland, for the Darren Mackie testimonial match against Aberdeen FC. It's been a while since the Dons have done anything significant in Europe or in Scotland, but when I first started watching football in earnest, back in the late 1970's-early 1980's, Aberdeen were quite a team.
Aberdeen is quite remote from the other teams in the SPL, most of whom are near Glasgow, Edinburgh, or Dundee, and that remoteness was emphasized when the North Sea oil field was developed, as Aberdeen was the nearest port and had quite a boom time. And the football team did too, thanks to a young manager named Alex Ferguson. He led the team to three league championships in seven years, several Scottish Cups, and in 1983 Aberdeen won the now-defunct Cup-Winners Cup, defeating Real Madrid in the final, and then won the European Supercup by beating Hamburg. Hard to imagine that happening today.
Incidentally, the match will be played at Aberdeen's Pittodrie, the first soccer stadium to have dugouts apparently. Wikipedia also states Pittodrie comes from the Pictish for "field of manure". Well, the grass should grow well there.
Giuseppe Rossi has already commented on twitter: "Off to Aberdeen. Sayin its cold there too. My tan isnt gonna get better smdh". Meanwhile, Borja Valero has tweeted that the players heading to China--I believe they're making a video showing the xtep wear and promoting their stuff as part of the new shirt deal--leave at 6AM tomorrow for Paris, then fly to Beijing before rejoining the team for the next friendly. Seems like this promotional stuff could have been done at a different time, doesn't it?
Today's match will be televised by Canal Nou, so there may be some streams available. Note the kickoff time, originally 2:45 EDT, is now 2:00 EDT.
As for other news, Giuseppe Rossi has trained with the team the last two days and while his agent keeps talking up Juventus, he hasn't been. Sr. Pastorello makes it sound as if Juve haven't offered enough money.
Benfica are apparently negotiating with Villarreal over Joan Capdevila, with Liverpool potential interested by some reports; Marca seems to think that Málaga may be making another run at Santi Cazorla and/or Borja Valero, though this seems to be based on an assumption that Villarreal has to sell someone for big money in the offseason, which is at variance with what Sr. Roig and the club has said. Of course, if Malaga or anyone else offered €30m for either of those players, it would force Sr. Roig to think about it for sure.
Regardless of the seriousness or not of these reports, Gonzalo has said what everyone is thinking: it is not easy for everyone while these rumors are out there. Surely the time must be near when the "template must be closed".
Finally, Nilmar suffered some pain in his Achilles and left the last training session early, though probably it's not serious, and Wakaso rejoins the team after his Irish visa problems. Finally, note that the club shop has just put last year's gear on 50% discount, so if you want anything with the airport logo on it, this is the time! Endavant Villarreal!