2010-11 was an exceptional season for Villarreal. Yet, having lived the ups and downs of that season, I always think about it with a bit of sadness. it was so great....but could have been so much more. So, let’s enter into the alternative universe..........
April 7, 2011 Villarreal are playing in the quarterfinals of the Europa League against Twente. Villarreal is winning 4-0. In the 72nd minute, Marc Janko thinks better of going in against Gonzalo Rodriguez on a tackle, Villarreal run out 5-1 winners. (no broken leg for Gonzalo!)
Villarreal runs out easy winners against Twente in the second leg, and are now drawn against Porto in the seminfinals.
April 28, 2011 Now most of you probably don’t know or don’t remember, but the 2011 Europa League Final, on May 18, was going to be played in Dublin. For my wife, Alisa, and me, this was PERFECT. We were living in western Massachusetts at the time—and Aer Lingus offered direct flights from Boston to Dublin—so we knew if Villarreal got to the final, we were going.
I remember watching the first leg in Portugal upstairs, watching on my computer, with our cat Pewter as company—I was too nervous to watch on TV! At halftime when we were ahead 1-0 I told Alisa how it was going......and then the roof fell in.
So what if it hadn’t? It’s a matchup of the two hottest teams.....Villarreal take a 1-0 lead into the break courtesy of a Cani goal, and early in the second half, Falcao appears to have been fouled by our keeper Diego Lopez, but referee Bjorn Kuijpers waves play on. Porto’s Brazilian Hulk goes ballistic, picks up a second yellow card, and Villarreal end up winning 2-0 on the road. The second leg at El Madrigal is almost a formality—we end up winning 3-1 and move on to the final against Braga.
May 18, 2011 Alisa and I are among the 45,000+ in Dublin as Villarreal defeat Braga 3-1 with goals from Santi Cazorla, Giuseppe Rossi and Nilmar. The Villarreal USA website is practically crashing as people try to find out more about the Yellow Submarine..... hey, it’s a wonderful dream!!!
Sr. Roig and the Villarreal fans get to celebrate a trophy at the Plaza Mayor; Villarreal are ready to compete next year in the Champions League, and with the Europa League prize money they’re able to hold onto all their stars, including Santi.
Oh, I’m sorry. Do I have to wake up now??