I got nothing much to say about the match—it was hardly a classic affair. But what was clear was that unlike at Porto, unlike at Anfield, Villarreal were comfortable and confident as they faced Arsenal today.
Maybe the shot off the post from Arsenal late on compensated for that penalty in the first leg, maybe we had some luck today, but it has to be said: Sr. Roig hired Unai Emery to bring us our first European final— and he has done it in his first year.
Radio Vila-real is busy playing Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days” in the background, and they just interviewed Bruno Soriano, who got close to a final twice of course. Sr. Roig could not hide his delight (and why should he?).
The final will happen May 26 in Gdansk, Poland against Manchester United. Mark your calendars. Should we win, that would be incredible, but regardless, enjoy this moment. It is so big for this club, for those of us who have followed this club.
For all the discussion about the lineup, Sid and I had it mostly right, though no place for Allen’s favored Bacca, none for Sid’s Ruben Peña. Coquelin and Parejo were in the middle, and Coquelin did well; Mario did play with Albiol, Pau and Pedraza in the back, and Paco partnered Gerard up front.
Samu Chukwueze looked like he was going to torment the Arsenal defense again but went down with some sort of injury on the half-hour mark, Yeremi Pino substituting for him. Hopefully he’ll be OK for the final.
The English press is already blaming Arteta and his game plan for the loss, of course (no way should the opposition get credit for how they played!) and with Arsenal finishing out of the European positions, the cosplay Super League side is going to have a lot of questions to answer in the summer. I could care less.
And so, ladies and gentlemen, your European finalists:
Celebrate as responsibly as you can!!!!