Senin, 01 Desember 2008

Villareal C. F.

Official Website : Villareal

Villarreal Club de Fútbol, usually abbreviated to Villarreal, is a Spanish Primera División football club based in Villarreal, a small town in the province of Castellón. The team plays at the 25,000-seat Madrigal stadium.The club was founded in 1923 and played in regional leagues until the Spanish Civil War, during which Spanish football went into a hiatus. After the war, the club played in various regional leagues as well as the Third Division until the 1970/71 season, when Villarreal first played in the Segunda División for two consecutive seasons, at the end of which the club was relegated to the Third Division once again. After playing in the Segunda División B for a few seasons in the late 80s, Villarreal managed to solidify themselves as a Segunda División club starting with the 1992/93 season.On May 24, 1998, a date which the club's supporters still remember fondly, Villarreal sealed promotion to the Primera División for the 1998/99 season, which started with an intimidating match against giants Real Madrid in the Santiago Bernabéu. After a difficult season, Villarreal were again relegated to the Segunda División for the 1999/2000 season, in which they finished third, again earning promotion to La Liga de las Estrellas, the Primera División, where they have remained up to the present day.

After finishing 7th a year later, Villarreal stayed near the bottom of the table for two seasons before defeating Dutch team SC Heerenveen in the final to win their first European title, the UEFA Intertoto Cup in the summer of 2003, thereby qualifying for the UEFA Cup tournament. In the 2003/04 season, Villarreal reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup, losing to neighbours and eventual champions Valencia CF. That summer, however, they won the Intertoto Cup again, qualifying for that coming season's UEFA Cup tournament, in which they would reach the quarter-finals. They bowed out in the quarter-finals to Dutch side AZ Alkmaar, losing 3-2 on aggregate. During the same 2004/05 season Villarreal finished in 3rd place in La Liga, earning the club their first direct qualification to a European tournament; the UEFA Champions League.

The 2005/06 season brought the club considerable European success and recognition, due to their consistent performances in the Champions League. In the qualifying round stage, Villarreal sensationally defeated English side Everton F.C. with a 4-2 aggregate score with two 2-1 victories. In the group stage, Villarreal were to be in the same group as Portuguese champions SL Benfica, French club Lille OSC, and English giants Manchester United F.C.. Remaining undefeated throughout the group stage, Villarreal were twice victorious (1-0 each against Benfica away and Lille at home) and earned four draws, including two scoreless draws with Manchester United. They topped their group and progressed to the knock-out stages along with SL Benfica. The club progressed to the quarter-finals in their Champions League debut by defeating the Scottish club Rangers F.C. 3-3 on the away goals rule (a 2-2 draw in Glasgow and a 1-1 draw at home gave the Spanish side one more away goal than their opponents).

El Submarino Amarillo drew Italian heavyweights Inter Milan in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. The first leg was played at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on March 29, 2006. Playing at San Siro, Diego Forlán scored inside the first minute of the match, but Villarreal lost 2-1 as Inter took a lead to the return leg at Estadio El Madrigal on April 4. Villarreal, however, continued their unbeaten home record in the Champions League as they beat the Italian giants 1-0 in the second leg to qualify for the semi-finals on the away goals rule (the tie ended 2-2 on aggregate, but because of Diego Forlán's goal in Milan, Villarreal advanced). During that game, left-back Rodolfo 'El Vasco' Arruabarrena turned a back header from Riquelme's free kick past Inter's goalkeeper Francesco Toldo to score the decisive goal of the tie. In the semi-finals, Villarreal narrowly lost out to Arsenal F.C. on a 1-0 aggregate scoreline following Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann's save of Juan Román Riquelme's last-minute penalty, the penalty was won by Jose Mari's infamous dive. Villarreal signed Robert Pires from Arsenal in the summer following their Champions League semi-final defeat. He is playing for the team now after a long injury lay-off. The 2006-2007 season started very badly but Villarreal were able to qualify for the UEFA Cup after 8 consecutive wins. The Yellow Submarines were 13th after Round 30 of La Liga, but they climbed to finish 5th at the end of the season.

The club automatically qualified for the 2008/09 Champions League, due to them finishing second in La Liga the previous season. They drew Manchester United, for the second consecuitive campaign, Glasgow Celtic and Aalborg BK. They made good start by holding European champions Manchester United to a goalless draw at Old Trafford, a third 0-0 draw in a row against the English giants. A first win was sealed on 30th September by beating Gordon Strachan's Celtic 1-0 at El Madrigal, courtesy of a Marcos Senna freekick. On October 21 during a Champions League match against Aalborg they scored 6 goals to 3.

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