Villarreal-Zaragoza: Villarreal Prepares for a Must Win, Bigger Questions Arise
Saturday's game in Zaragoza has to be a win, there is no question about it. Villarreal will go head first against a team that has already avoided relegation, and that will play with no other reason than finishing the season.
Zaragoza and Villarreal go back a long way, however. The maños were relegated in El Madrigal some years ago, in a match that ended with Acuña, paraguayan international, and then key player in Zaragoza's midfield, kicking a Villarreal fan who had jumped from the stands and into the field to celebrate the victory at the end of the game, and several players from both teams pushing and shoving each other.
That game resulted in several game bans for a couple of players, and Villarreal did not even play for anything; that should be an example of what Saturday's game could be like. Zaragoza remembers.
At the same time Villarreal makes sure to get full points out of the last game of the season, the groguets are appealing to Atletico's professionalism when it comes to beating Getafe at the Calderon. Getafe is sixth with the same points Villarreal has, but with a better direct goal average with the team from the East coast.
Villarreal players have been making sure to publicly state that they hope Atletico will not play nice after its recent Europe League win. Forlan and friends will have celebrated for several days, but that should not mean that the colchoneros will not have what it takes to beat Getafe, who after all is a local rival.
Whatever happens, Villarreal will have to pray to get that sixth spot that ensures Europa League for next season, and then move on to change several things for the years to come. Several problems are to be changed if Villarreal wants to continue to bring European tournaments to Vila-real every year.
The transition of the team's performance and playing tactics is obvious. Juan Carlos Garrido has recently earned a well deserved renewal of his contract until next season. Garrido has been in Villarreal for over a decade, coaching the youngsters and more recently the B team, who is now a couple of points away from the promotion spots to Liga Adelante, a promotion that would not take place due to league restrictions.
Garrido has shown maturity when things turned sour after Hamburg took away the European dream a little too early, and that paid off. The team has proved to be better defensively, and even though the attack is a bit shaky at times, with Nilmar needing a couple more years to be what he can be, Llorente past his prime, and Rossi affected by his father death, overall team performance has improved, vastly, since Garrido took over.
At the same time, several players are due to leave the club this summer, and the spot will be left empty for others. Javi Venta, who went from playing in Villarreal's feeder, Onda, to captain of the team and even invited to the national side's retreat a couple of years ago, will be leaving Vila-real at the end of the season, probably to play in England. Venta is Raul-like that way—in love with the tradition of the sport, and the mutual respect between fans and team; and England has lots of both; most likely, Javi will end up there.
Robert Pires is also leaving, even though he wanted to retire in Vila-real, and work for the club at a representative level—sort of a Zizou in Madrid. Apparently, things turned sour along the way during last season, and the frenchman will leave one of his favorite clubs like nothing happened. Some blame Garrido, wanting to place a couple of family members in the club's structure; others say Robert is just not wanting to stay after all.
Whatever the reason, Villarreal loses the opportunity to have an worldwide-known star to be the face of the club.
As better times, and well known players are left behind, Villarreal will have to make another turn if it wants to find its new identity, and that is something that will have to come from the club's boss, Fernando Roig.
He has not lost touch with who he is in all these years—from convincing Martin Palermo to join an unknown club, decision that would make Maradona yell "Big, big mistake", to getting a watered-down Riquelme from the hands of Barcelona and turning him into an even bigger star, or giving Giuseppe Rossi as many weeks as he needed to mourn the death of his father some months ago, even with the club playing for his life in Europe and the Liga Adelante.
Don Roig will have to decide this summer what the new philosophy for the club will be.
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