Thinking about this match, and about our entire Europa League adventure, no question that Unai Emery was brought in to win a title. He told Guillem Balague in an interview earlier this week that the players told him that when he arrived. I am not sure anyone believed it would be this soon, but.....!
One of the great things on twitter was seeing messages of support from various ex-Villarreal footballers (Juan Pablo Sorin’s video, watching the match and screaming after Rulli’s save was outstanding).
Also worth noting was that Rulli dived low to his left to stop De Gea, just as Lehmann dived low to his left to stop Riquelme in that CL semifinal so many years ago. Maybe now we can stop showing that clip and wondering what could have been!
I don’t know how much we had practiced penalties, evidently enough for Unai Emery to put in Dani Raba, of all people, to take one; what was astonishing was that although De Gea tried to talk to our players to put them off, no one paid attention, just focused on the job at hand. (Gero Rulli said he had never practiced a penalty in his life—he just tried to hit the ball as hard as he could!!).
If you would like to see the shootout (and a few bits from the 120 minutes preceding it) and our players getting their medals, here you go.
“It costs nothing to dream”, Unai Emery said, and sometimes, the dream becomes real.
I don’t want to look forward too much but we probably end up with around €35-40m revenue from this competition once you add in the TV revenues and the coefficient payments, and we get another €4-5m from playing in the Supercup in August. And the automatic place in the Champions League group stage brings probably €35m or so.
That money—plus the promise of Champions League football under Unai Emery—probably enables us to keep players we don’t want to lose, but we shouldn’t expect to see a ton of arrivals, I don’t think. Surely there will be departures—our beloved battler Jaume Costa surely will be one, as his contract expires June 30.
Worth mentioning again that we had five players—Jaume, Mario, Gerard, Moi, and Manu Trigueros—who were part of the promotion-winning squad in 2012-13 (Mario was the only one who suffered through the 2011-12 relegation).
And finally, let’s remember that this Europa League journey could not have started unless we qualified for the 2020-21 EL to begin with. I hope Javi Calleja can take some pleasure in knowing that he had a role to play in this success, too.
Villarreal, Europa League Champions. I’ll never get tired of saying that!!