Hard to believe it, but we are only a week away from a new season kicking off. Yes, I know, the European Super Cup is still by some measures a friendly, but it’s a friendly where someone walks away with a not insignificant piece of silverware. Before then, we face Leicester City (today) in what I call in my head the ‘Iborra Derby’ and then we take on Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds on Saturday as our final tune-ups.
Villarreal and Chelsea represent two widely disparate views on what a football club is. Both were bought by super rich men 15-20 years ago, but whereas Fernando Roig built Villarreal to be a self-sustaining model of largely homegrown success, Roman Abramovich turned Chelsea into a machine that chews up young players’ careers in order to buy hugely expensive player after hugely expensive player. Even a global pandemic didn’t slow down Chelsea’s spending, as it happened to come on the heels of a transfer ban for flaunting UEFA’s rules. Chelsea has individual players who cost as much or nearly as much as the entire XI Villarreal is likely to put out this week.
So, once again, Villarreal finds itself up against an evil empire of corporate football. It looks like we’ll have to fight this one without the excellent Dani Parejo, due to injury, and Pau Torres, due to the Olympics, and that makes this an incredibly tall order to fill.
Regardless, we’re happy to be here, to have this opportunity, and Unai Emery will have his charges prepared to be defensively sound and have a puncher’s chance in this one. Who knows, staying solid at the back and getting a piece of magic from Gerard Moreno, we might even win this thing.