Friday, March 20, 2009

It's Villarreal

In 2006, Arsenal met Villarreal in the semi-final of the Champions League. They won and eventually lost to Barcelona in Paris in what amounted to one of those finals that is really more of a blur (is there any other kind?). A 1-nil lead and an eventual late loss with only 10 men. It was hard, there's no doubt about that. There was a sting to it that still lasts, fading as it may be.

Still, for my part, the true agony was in the win over Villarreal over the two-legs of the semi-final. Broken record alert: I always talk about the difficultly of managing your emotions as a football supporter. Trophies matter, naturally, but what's really the most difficult part is the bare tension from week to week and match to match. Often, it's all about getting there. Once you've gotten into the party, it's a blur. Of course, that result still matters like nothing else ... but all the same, you got there, didn't you? Maybe that's just me though. It's just the grinding anticipation and anxiety. Let's equate it to the nerves of asking that one bird who may have been way over your head to the high school dance all those years ago. You'd rather wretch than deal with it, but once you get through the ordeal, well the rest is just gravy, isn't it?

And that's why that semi-final against Villarreal in 2006 was so incredibly gut-wrenching and this moment is one of the most indelible footballing moments in my life (also because my memory doesn't work like it used to and even matches from January have flittered away) ... 

Ah Jens, what a joy he was. "Jens le fou." (Press the red button on your remote for the Lehman Cam.)

1 comment:

Jamie said...


what an excellent draw... i've never been much of a neutral, but c'mon... bite it!

i'm glad arsenal made some signings in the last few weeks... walcott, fabregas and eduardo, just at the right time, too.

liverpool to win on penalties?
munich rinse barca?
arsenal scrape past villareal?
man utd will destroy porto...