Europa League 2009/10
In the 2009/10 season Villarreal CF made their debut in the first edition of the Europa League, an ambitious attempt to relaunch the classic UEFA Cup competition. The Yellows made it to the Round of 32 where they were eliminated by German side Wolfsburg.
The team, who started the season under manager Ernesto Valverde and debuted in the Qualifying play-offs against NAC Breda, could not have started the tournament better. In the first leg the side from the Castellón province put the knockout tie on the right track with a 1-3 away win. Then they finished off the job in the second leg with a crushing 6-1 victory at El Madrigal (Rossi (2), Cazorla, Pereira, Senna and Kiko). Things could not have started better for the Yellows.
Second in Group G
The draw, which took place in Nyon, landed the Yellows in Group G, along with Bulgarian side Levski Sofia, Salzburg from Austria and Italy’s Lazio. In the first match, Villarreal CF defeated Levski Sofia (1-0) with Nilmar scoring the only goal, and his first in an official competition with Villarreal CF. However, a surprise came in the Yellows’ first away match as they were beaten by Red Bull Salzburg (2-0). The Austrians proved themselves to be a strong side and one to watch out for in the battle for first place in the group.
Matters got even worse for Villarreal CF in their third match, with Lazio winning in extra time at the Stadio Olimpico, after the Yellows put in a great performance in their effort to clinch a point. In their fourth match of the Group stages, Villarreal CF played against the team from Rome again and this time they made no mistake. With two goals from Pires, another from Rossi and an amazing fourth from Cani, the team from the Castellón province were back in the fight to get to the Round of 32 and practically eliminated the Italians from the competition.
In their fifth match, Villarreal CF secured second place in the group and subsequently their place in the next round, after defeating Levski 0-2 in Sofía, while they finished the Group stages with a defeat against Salzburg at El Madrigal (0-1).
Wolfsburg stole the Submarine’s glory
The Round of 32 draw was not as generous as expected as Villarreal CF were paired with Wolfsburg, champions of the Bundesliga. With Juan Carlos Garrido making his debut on the sidelines for Villarreal CF, the Germans showed their prowess in the first leg, which finished in a thrilling 2-2 draw with Senna and Marco Ruben as goal scorers at El Madrigal.
So, the Submarine pinned all their hopes on what would be a tough second leg at the Volkswagen Arena in Wolfsburg. But the white-and-greens were too strong, putting four past the Yellows (4-1) and ending their dream in the new competition.