2007/08: Within Touching Distance of the Title
Villarreal CF had their best season in history in the 2007/08 campaign, finishing in second place in the league behind leaders Real Madrid. Thus earning themselves a one way ticket to the following season’s Champions League. Throughout the campaign the Yellow Submarine were consistent in their performance and effective in front of goal, finishing with a total of 77 points (24 wins, 5 draws and 9 losses) at the end of the season, a heroic feat which in many previous years would have won them the First Division title.
In the regular season campaign they broke plenty of records: games won (24), total points (77), wins at home (12) and away goals scored (30), as well as earning the title of the least cautioned team, with 89 yellow cards and only 3 red cards.
What’s more, Manuel Pellegrini’s side were also the best team away from home in the league, as they ranked first in away wins in the table, with 12 victories (36 points), more than Real Madrid who finished with 10 victories and 4 draws.
Villarreal earned a reputation as a team with a certain style of play but who could also be flexible, with a great manager and a squad that were not affected by changes in personnel when competing in the UEFA Cup or the Copa del Rey, as they knew how to manage the inevitable wear and tear from the three competitions. There were several new additions at the start of the season and the ‘new’ players adapted without any problems: Diego López, Diego Godin, Joan Capdevila and Santi Cazorla –who returned from Recreativo- , and Ángel López, Giuseppe Rossi and Sebastián Eguren who together proved to be decisive in the initial phase of the season. Also, the return of Gonzalo Rodríguez and Nihat Kahveci, after their knee injuries, was also a decisive factor in the success of the season, especially as Kahveci was the team’s top goal scorer with 18 goals.
The quality and sacrifice in the side as well as a mix of youth and experience were the keys to this extraordinary campaign.
In that season there were also great performances in other competitions, showing just how consistent the team’s performance was. In the UEFA Cup they did well but unfortunately ran into Zenit Saint Petersburg, who would go on to win the tournament, in a very even match that Zenit won by one goal. And in the Copa del Rey they lost against FC Barcelona in the Quarter-finals, in what was also a very even match, decided by a controversial goal from the Catalonian side at the Nou Camp.
Sebastian Viera, Gonzalo Javier Rodriguez, Jose Miguel Gonzalez Rey, Diego Roberto Godin, Joan Capdevila Mendez, Jose Joaquin Moreno Verdu, Robert Pires, Santiago Cazorla Rodríguez, Guillermo Franco, Ruben Gracia Calmache, Jon Dahl Tomasson, Pascal Cygan, Diego Lopez Rodriguez, Matías Fernández, Nihat Kahveci, Juan Roman Riquelme, Javier Rodríguez Venta, Ángel Domingo López Ruano, Marcos Antonio Senna Da Silva, Fabricio Fuentes, Bruno Soriano Llido, Giuseppe Rossi and Rio Antonio Mavuba.