This is a post that we all hoped we wouldn't have to write, and you'll excuse me if it feels like an obituary, but I suppose in a sense it is.
Quite apart from that, I don' t feel like recapping this match in detail, partly because for large stretches it was a very poor game. Villarreal deployed a trivote of Bruno, Marchena and Senna, with Hernán Pérez and Borja Valero trying to link those three with Marco Ruben.
I thought Atletico seemed tired in the first half, or at least less than fully interested. As it turnde out, neither team had a shot on net in the first half, but Villarreal had the better of the shots that went wide. Hernan Perez could have given the Submarine a lead within eight minutes but pulled his shot wide, later Ruben shot wide and Carlos Marchena's header from a free kick was just on the wrong side of the post.
Atleti didn't show much, with Salvio having maybe the best chance but his shot was blocked by Musacchio. At the half we were still staying up, especially as Rayo and Granada were also drawing.
HT Villarreal 0-0 Atletico Madrid
Just like last week, as soon as the second half started Villarreal were on the back foot. Atleti had three good chances to score, with Tiago and Salvio both bringing fine saves from Diego Lopez while Filipe Luis somehow hit the post from a Juanfran cross with Lopez beaten. It wasn't looking good.
Villarreal really only had one good chance in the remaining portion of regular time--Marcos Senna's excellent free kick was saved by Courtois in the 72nd minute. Angel had come on for Marchena, but Villarreal were defending deeper and deeper, and Pérez, Borja and Ruben were basically seeing none of the ball. The afición was crying out for Cani, at least those of us commenting on this website were, but when Lotina finally did make a change--with three minutes to go--it was Wakaso Mubarak who came on for Pérez. Why?
As the match neared injury time, Atletico forced a corner. And for the first time all day, Radamel Falcao got away from Zapata and headed Diego's cross home. How unfair and cruel could this season be? Within a minute news came in that Rayo had scored a stoppage-time winner against Granada. Still, if Villarreal could somehow score in injury time, they would stay up.....
.....and it nearly happened. Nilmar (who had replaced Mario immediately after the Atletico goal) crossed for Marco Ruben and his header went just past the post. That was it, really. El Madrigal sat in shock and silence; Sr. Roig, having held his head in his hands in the palco, left the box to console the players and fans. After twelve wonderful years in the Primera, the last team other than Barcelona and Real Madrid to finish in the top two in the league was no longer in the top flight.
FT Villarreal 0-1 Atletico Madrid
I'd love to congratulate Zaragoza and Granada on staying up, but I cannot, given Zara's financial irregularities, rumors of payoffs, and the fact that Granada is basically a farm team of Udinese. But, admittedly, that's sour grapes.
I feel really badly for all Villarreal fans, I feel especially gutted for our B team, who now are automatically relegated from the Segunda in order to make room for us. Of course, many of them, and maybe their coach as well, may end up featuring for Villarreal in the Segunda next year. We will have to wait and see.
The last time VIllarreal were relegated, they bounced straight back. There's no reason why we can't do that again. Siempre, siempre, ENDAVANT VILLARREAL!