Villarreal has drawn Danish side Odense in the Champions League play-off. The first leg will take place in Denmark on August 16/17, with the return leg at El Madrigal on August 23/24.
Sr. Roig had a big smile on his face, and who can blame him? Villarreal drew the minnows at this stage in the competition and plays the second leg at home. But there is still work to be done.
Much more to follow in the days ahead, but here is a short description of our opponent:
The side better known as OB, based in Denmark's third-largest city (population: 170,000), has won 3 league titles and 5 league cups. OB finished as league runners-up in 2010-11 behind FC Copenhagen, a perennial European contender (currently in the Champions route play-off).
The Danish league has vaulted into 12th place in the latest UEFA club rankings (just behind Greece and Turkey), primarily on the heels of Copenhagen's success. OB has started the new campaign with a home win against FC Nordsjaelland and away draws to Aarhus and FC Copenhagen.
OB's Nigerian striker Peter Utaka led the Danish Superliga with 18 goals in 2009-10, so he is the danger-man up front. But the real story is the presence of former Manchester United hardman Eric Djemba-Djemba, a real coup for the league. It seems a friendly tax situation has accompanied an uptick of quality in the league. Frenchman Bernard Mendy and Swede Andreas Johansson also played in the EPL, so OB is not devoid of big-match experience.
Similar to Juan Carlos Garrido, OB manager Henrik Clausen has been associated with the club for years. Clausen started with the youth side, progressed through the ranks, and now has the big club's reins at age 40.
On the whole, it's not the easiest draw, but Villarreal is the clear favorite in the tie. And we have to beat an inexperienced side like OB to book our spot in the top club competition in international soccer.