Villarreal will be engaging in a couple of traditional activities today and tomorrow (in fact, the first will have happened by the time you read this).
It’s a tradition for the team to visit the local Basilica de San Pasqual and make a floral offering before the season starts, and then to visit again once the team has gotten to 42 points and is safe for next season—that’s when the champagne toast usually happens. Of course, this year we have had to wait a long time for that! Anyway, that visit is happening today.
And tomorrow, what has become a tradition in recent years will continue, as the first team and Villarreal management personnel will get together for the end-of-season lunch, catered by the Elkano restaurant owned by ex-Villarreal player Aitor Arregi.
Elkano isn’t just any restaurant—they were recently named ‘probably the best seafood restaurant in the world’ by the Financial Times, and are best known for grilled seafood—Sr. Arregi and his staff bring all sorts of specially constructed grills and implements to Vila-real for the occasion (the meal will be served in the restaurant at the Estadio de la Ceramíca).
I haven’t visited the restaurant yet, but our friends at the Athletic Club California club have, and presented Sr. Arregi with a Villarreal USA scarf on my behalf (see the photo).
Players are scheduled to report back to Vila-real on July 9. If this preseason compares to previous ones, we’ll probably play a couple of friendlies—almost scrimmages, really—at the place where we hold our first week of practice, and then we’ll play some friendlies against European sides.
It will be interesting to see whether the Ceramics Trophy is reinstated—I believe the last one was in the summer of 2014 against Celtic. Between stadium works, grass replacement, and (in 2016) the CL qualifiers, it’s fallen by the wayside the last few years.
As I find out about preseason arrangements, I’ll post them.