Takeaways from our visit to Vila-real:
(1) if you love football, Vila-real is a great place to be. It really is on the map because of Villarreal CF. Otherwise, you'd simply blow right past it on the train on the way to Castellon and Barcelona. The facilities at the Sports City are impressive, and in among the training grounds, mini Estadi, etc. is a Little pitch where anyone can come in and have a bit of a kick round--really nice to see.
(2) unfortunately the weather--it's been raining almost constantly over the past week--put a real damper on the atmosphere outside before the match, though we were able to enjoy some quality time with some of the Celtic Submari folks in the APV (supporters clubs) bar before the match. During that time I was interviewed briefly for Villarreal TV!
(3) one thing I never realized before is how many of the seats are not under cover. The roofs of both end stands only cover the top section of the stand, and the corners are open to the elements as well. The club relocated a lot of people because of the rain--the away section was filled by Villarreal supporters. I would guess there were 11 to 12 thousand there; surely we would have had 15-16k at least.
(4) in spite of that, the atmosphere in the ground, especially for the first 60 mins or so, was great--the drums and noise from the groups in opposite corners was pretty much nonstop (and we were just above one of them). After Sevilla's second goal heads dropped for a bit but the last ten minutes or so picked up again as Villarreal threatened
(5) afterward, people were disappointed, but I didn't hear a lot of criticism. I sense people take the long view--that at some level, another year in the Primera is the first goal; we got there. Of course we would have loved to made it to the cup final, of course we'd love to qualify for champions league again, but it seemed to me people were appreciative of the effort, even if the result wasn't there. That's not to say there weren't debates about tactics and personnel after the match-- I am sure there were, I heard a little on the train going back--but I sensed more disappointment and frustration that we couldn't beat Sevilla again than anything else.
(6) after seeing the team in person, I am amazed at the skill level of many of our players. Moi, Jona, Campbell (admittedly, unlikely to stay) and Bailly were especially impressive. Yet, much of that skill was displayed in the middle of the pitch--when it came to actually playing the ball into dangerous spaces.
(7) rukavina--poor first touch time after time, puts his teammates into trouble. Gio--no confidence in cutting inside one-on-one against a defender; Sevilla kept someone in front of him and continually turned him to the outside.
(8) performance of the day: the high school (I imagine) band that performed at halftime. They were incredibly good!!
now most of our guys have a couple of weeks off before taking on Valencia there. I look forward to hearing from Jiwonsi about that one!! . Endavant Villarreal!!