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This is our moment: Villarreal at Arsenal, Europa League Semi-Final Gamethread

Villarreal seeks to make history by reaching a European final.

Villareal CF v Arsenal - UEFA Europa League Semi Final Leg One Photo by Manuel Queimadelos/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

In a way, we shouldn’t be here. Clubs from towns the size of Vila-real and clubs who have spent negative amounts of money on transfers over the last five years are not supposed to be in European semi-finals. We certainly aren’t supposed to be leading going into the second leg over one the the biggest brands in European football, and yet we are here.

In a way, there’s a kinship between these two clubs. Santi Cazorla is passionately loved by both fanbases, Gabriel Paulista has played for both, as have Joel Campbell, Pascal Cygan and of course Robert Pires.

On top of that, for Villarreal fans that have at times been frustrated with Unai Emery’s methods this season, no one really understands that much better than our friends over at Arsenal. They’re a super club, they joined the super league, but there’s a shared affection of the sort you might see between a set of in-laws. You don’t necessarily love each other, but you love and/or are frustrated by many of the same people.

I feel in my bones that this is Villarreal’s moment. I think this is where we get past the semi-final barrier and make a final and have the chance to make history. But if for some reason it doesn’t work out that way, and Arsenal and Manchester United end up playing for the title? You best believe I’ll be supporting the London side. For Santi.

The Match

I’ll try to circle back to this today and get the lineups in the article. If I don’t make it (because strangely, work doesn’t give me a day off for Europa League semi-finals) y’all drop it in the comments as usual. Arsenal rotated heavily at the weekend, and they’ll come in heated looking for a goal right away. Three things, I think, will be absolutely crucial here. First, we can’t concede a goal early. If we find ourselves chasing the game we’re going to be in big trouble. Second, we need an away goal of our own preferably in the first half. That will put an incredible amount of pressure on Arsenal and give us the chance to capitalize on their mistakes. Third, and this might be the biggest thing of all, Unai Emery can’t come out passive and defensive here. It’s time to attack. Get to the final with authority and force, and dare Arsenal to match it. If we sit back and let this side run at us for 90 minutes, we aren’t going to advance.


Hit us in the comments with your thoughts/fears/reactions to this match.

Update: Lineups