SIN FINAL FELIZ

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La temporada 2005/06 del Villareal será recordada como la mejor a lo largo de la historia del “Submarino Amarillo”. El fútbol de Juan Román Riquelme y las tácticas de Manuel Pellegrini dejaron a la institución en lo alto del fútbol mundial.

Tras salir terceros en la Liga 04/05, Villareal accedió a la Pre Champions y se enfrentó al Everton de Inglaterra. La ida se disputó en Goodison Park, y el conjunto de Pellegrini comenzaría con el pie derecho venciendo 2 a 1 con goles de Luciano Figueroa y Josico (había empatado Beattie transitoriamente para los locales).

Villarreal mostraba algunos destellos de que lo que se vendría más adelante eliminando al Everton por el repechaje.

Villarreal mostraba algunos destellos de que lo que se vendría más adelante eliminando al Everton por el repechaje.

Todo se definió en el Madrigal, estadio del equipo Español. 22.000 personas se hicieron presentes aquella noche, pero no sería nada fácil, porque si bien los locales se pusieron en ventaja temprano con el tanto de Juan Pablo Sorín, en el complemento, Mikel Arteta puso suspenso con el gol del empate para los Ingleses, pero apareció Diego Forlan para decretar, en el minuto 90, la victoria definitiva, con un global de 4-2.

Luego de superar el repechaje, Villareal se metió en el grupo D, donde se topó con rivales como el Manchester United, Lille y Benfica. Pasaron 3 empates, para que llegara la primera victoria: fue ante los Andaluces, en el estadio Da Luz, por 1 a 0, con gol de Marcos Senna, a falta de 9 minutos para el final del partido. Tras un empate 0-0, contra el United en Old Trafford, llegó la segunda victoria del Submarino Amarillo, ante Lille en el Madrigal, producto del tanto de Guayre, en el complemento. Fue clasificación invicta para los amarillos, que con 10 puntos, se metieron en octavos como líderes de su zona.

Villarreal cerró su participación en la fase de grupos con una victoria en casa ante el Lille de Francia. Invictos y a octavos de final.

Villarreal cerró su participación en la fase de grupos con una victoria en casa ante el Lille de Francia. Invictos y a octavos de final.

Lo más difícil comenzó ante Rangers, en el Ibrox Park de Escocia, por el partido de ida. En dicho enfrentamiento, Riquelme puso la ventaja de penal pero rapidamente Løvenkrands puso el 1 a 1. Minutos más tarde, apareció otra de las grandes figuras del conjunto que dirigía Manuel Pellegrini, Forlan, para poner nuevamente en ventaja a su equipo, pero cuando el tiempo se acababa, Peña tuvo mala fortuna y metió un gol en contra, que terminó dejando suspenso entre ambos conjuntos de cara a la vuelta.

Disputado el 7 de Marzo de 2006, el partido pertinente a la serie entre Villareal y Rangers por los octavos de final de la Champions League, tuvo un manto épico, porque el equipo escocés fue más a lo largo de los 90, y tras ponerse en ventaja con gol de Løvenkrands a  los 12 minutos de juego, tuvo varias chances para aumentar la ventaja, pero ahí apareció Viera, el portero del “Submarino Amarillo”, que tuvo aquella noche una actuación brillante. Ya en el complemento, el capitán, Rodolfo Arruabarrena, puso el 1-1 definitivo, que clasificó a los españoles a cuartos de final, por haber convertido 2 goles fuera de casa, en el encuentro de ida.

Los cuartos de final, fueron ante Inter de Italia, un serio candidato por la gran plantilla que tenía, por aquel entonces, el otro equipo de la ciudad de Milán. El Giuseppe Meazza fue testigo de un encuentro vibrante, que comenzó con Villareal en ventaja, producto del tanto de Diego Forlan al minuto de juego. Pero 5’ más tarde, apareció Adriano para poner el empate, y devolverle la tranquilidad a los italianos. En el segundo tiempo, Martins puso cifras definitivas a favor de los locales, y le cortó al equipo de Pellegrini, el invicto que traía desde el repechaje, ante Everton de Inglaterra.

La vuelta se jugó el 4 de Abril del 2006, en el Madrigal. Allí el Villareal fue más que su rival, y con el juego que le daban Forlan y Riquelme, más la anotación de Arrubarrena, venció al Inter por 1 a 0, y se quedó por la diferencia de gol, con el pase a semifinales, que lo depositó entre los mejores cuatro de Europa, algo que ya era notorio para un equipo que no tenía mucha experiencia en certámenes internacionales.

Para las semifinales, el Villareal tuvo otra dura prueba, ante el Arsenal, que llegaba en su mejor forma, con jugadores como Pires, Henry, Fábregas, Gilberto Silva y Bergkamp. Parecía difícil, y así fue. En el partido de ida, los Gunners fueron más que la visita, y vencieron 1 a 0 con gol de Kolo Touré. Pellegrini aseguró aquella noche, que el resultado era bueno, y de cara a la vuelta, había mucha confianza en revertir la historia.

El fin del sueño llegó una semana después en el Madrigal. Pese a jugar un excelente partido, el Villareal no pudo vulnerar la portería de Jens Lehmann y hasta tuvo, en el minuto 90, un penal que pudo haberlo depositado en la prórroga, pero Riquelme no logró vencer al arquero Alemán, y la historia se terminó con la frente en alto por el lugar hasta donde se llegó, pero con la impotencia de no poder llegar a la final. Su gente, con lágrimas en los ojos, al igual que varios futbolistas, aplaudió la retirada del equipo, cabizbajo, hacia el vestuario tras la eliminación.

Riquelme no puede con Lehmann en el minuto 90. Villarreal se queda en la puerta de la gloria.

Riquelme no puede con Lehmann en el minuto 90. Villarreal se queda en la puerta de la gloria.

16 partidos fueron los que disputó el Villareal aquel año, registró desde la Pre Champions a la semifinales, un total de 5 victorias. 7 empates, y sólo 2 derrotas. Lo llamativo de aquel equipo, es que no hubo un goleador destacado, si grandes jugadores (Riquelme y Forlan), que con su nivel, llevaron al Submarino Amarillo a estar entre los 4 mejores de Europa, también se hicieron presentes grandes caudillos de ese conjunto, como Marcos Senna o Rodolfo Arruabarrena.

EL ÉXITO NO FUE UNA CASUALIDAD:

El gran trabajo de Manuel Pellegrini en temporadas anteriores, llevó a Villarreal a construir la página más dorada de su historia. Mezclando solidez defensiva con frialdad y panorama para la ofensiva, el equipo se construyó de atrás para adelante, y se fue confeccionando para finalmente consagrarse con el correr de los partidos.

Los 11 que jugaron la vuelta, por las semifinales, ante el Arsenal.

Los 11 que jugaron la vuelta, por las semifinales, ante el Arsenal.

LA FORMULA DEL INGENIERO:

Pellegrini hizo honra a su apodo en cada partido de aquella Champions. Preparó a su equipo para que esté a la altura en cada enfrentamiento. Le tocó rivales que salieron a jugarle, otros que lo esperaron, y siempre buscó en distintas formulas futbolísticas, soluciones para superar a sus rivales. El sistema táctico predilecto era un 4-3-1-2, con Juan Román Riquelme como estandarte en la creación, Diego Forlan en carácter de asistidor –y también convirtió goles-, en el mediocampo, mucho dependía de Marcos Senna, que se encargaba de cortar el juego y distribuir a los costados, donde rumbeaban Josico y Sorín, dos tractores que corrían las bandas incansablemente, aportando en ataque y relevando en defensa.

Como dijimos, los grandes equipos se construyen de atrás para adelante, y es ahí donde el técnico chileno encontró el sustento para soportar los partidos ante grandes rivales, como el Manchester United, Inter de Italia y el propio verdugo, Arsenal. Venta, Álvarez, Peña y Arruabarrena fue la línea de 4 predilecta del “Ingeniero”, pero los buenos equipos, deben tener buenos arqueros, y fue ese puesto, el que tuvo a dos protagonistas, Barbosa y Viera, claves en algunos momentos de aquella competencia histórica.

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Estudiante de Periodismo Deportivo. 20 años. Marplatense. Director de ElRojoEsMiPasión. Hago Radio en Tribunal Deportivo (102.3)

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