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Villarreal's next opponents, Derby County

A few fun facts about our next opponent....

Thomas Ince.  I like any team with the message "JUST EAT" on their shirts, don't you??
Thomas Ince. I like any team with the message "JUST EAT" on their shirts, don't you??
Pete Norton/Getty Images

Derby County: some quick facts

The Midlands team, currently playing in the English Championship, has high ambitions this season, with new ownership and a new coach.

History:  Founded 1884, a founding club of the Football League (1888).  Two golden eras: the first was in the late 1890's-early 1900's (three FA Cup Final appearances--all losses--and some second and third-placed league finishes).  The second was the Brian Clough-Peter Taylor era (1967-73), with a league championship (1972) and European Cup semifinal (1973).

Ownership:  Local businessman Mel Morris is the new chairman after investing in the Rams last season and becoming a part owner.   How did Morris make his money?  Well, look no farther than Candy Crush-- he has a substantial shareholding in the company that makes that game, and many more.

Manager: Paul Clement was Carlo Ancelotti's right-hand man at Real Madrid, and he left after his boss was fired, walking straight into his first head coaching job with Derby.  They were promotion contenders for much of last season before fading badly.

Ins and Outs:  With the prospect of tantalizing EPL riches on the horizon, Derby are clearly spending this summer in the hope of promotion.   They have signed a number of players with Premier League experience, including Darren Bent, Scott Carson, and Austria international Andreas Weimann.  On paper, they look like they have a dangerous attack and should be one of the promotion favorites this season.

Derby were the club that signed Raul Albentosa from Eibar in January, but he hasn't impressed, and has been loaned to Malaga.

The Stadium: For many years, Derby played at The Baseball Ground, which was in fact used for baseball in the Victorian era; a Derby industrialist, having seen the sport in the USA, tried to export the game to England, without success.  Since 1997 they have played at the Pride Park Stadium (called the iPro stadium as part of a sponsorship deal); it seats over 30,000.

Why the Rams:  There is a folksong called the "Derby Ram" that extolls the exploits of a mythical large ram, and the song tune is the regimental march of the Derbyshire Militia of the British Army, which had strong links to the club in its early days. (Derby County have a mascot named "Rammie").

Colors: Black and white, since 1895!

Ignoble records:  Largest FA Cup final loss (0-6 vs Bury, 1903).  Worst season in the Premier League, with earliest relegation, fewest wins (one), lowest points (11), fewest goals scored (20), worst goal difference (-69), etc., in the 2007-08 season.

The poor guys went nearly a year without a league win; they defeated Newcastle 1-0 Sept 17 in their opening home match of the season, there wouldn't be another until they defeated Sheffield United in the Championship, 1-0 on the following September 13.

Friendlies so far:  Derby, like Villarreal, had a couple of training games, basically, against lower division opposition.  Their first real significant matchup was against Utrecht (midtable in the Eredivisie last season) last Friday, and the Rams won 3-2 in Holland.   After this, the Rams play Burton Albion on Aug 1 in their last friendly, then start the Championship off at Bolton on August 8.  So expect them to treat this match quite seriously, and hopefully there will be a good crowd on hand.