Green Green World return

The Green Green World author is intending to use the current lockdown to motivate himself to revive the Green Green World in time for whatever resumption of football anywhere in the world is allowed

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GreenGreenWorld to return soon

Good news for all our faithful followers. GreenGreenWorld will definitely return at full operation for the 2018-2019 season and before that will be regularly commentating on the 2018 World Cup.

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Braga make Celtic look good, or at least a little better

Even a good Huddle not even to help Braga triumph

In the real world most GreenGreenWorld readers inhabit rather than the Parallel Universe of the last post, the Europa League Final of 18th May 2011 was a source of  a little rather than a lot of comfort for Celtic supporters. The final was contested by the two teams, Braga and Porto, that had ended the European dreams of both Celtic and their favourite Spanish club Villarreal. When Celtic were drawn against Braga in the penultimate Playoff Round for the 2010-11 Champions league most Celtic  supporters had assumed their club would qualify easily enough for the Final Playoff Round and began immediately to worry more about the better class of opponent they might face there. In the event Celtic were outplayed quite easily by Braga over the two legs of the tie. Braga, a team without stars, were the more coherent, better organised side and deserved their unexpected victory. Even so, when they were drawn against Spanish neighbours Sevilla  in the Final Playoff Round most Braga supporters assumed they would have to settle for the automatic place in the Europa League Group stages that defeat would bring them. With Celtic drawn against weak Dutch opponents Utrecht in the Europa League Final Playoff Round some Braga and Celtic fans indeed wondered if  a rematch might be possible.

In one of the major shocks in Champions League qualification history, Braga outplayed Sevilla comprehensively to qualify for the Group Stages while at the same time in one of the more shocking mishaps  in Europa League qualification history,  Celtic caved ignominiously before an astonished Utrecht side. Braga, using some of the guaranteed Champions League receipts to sign players like Hugo Vianna (recommended by GGW to Celtic  as the class midfield general they lacked), acquitted themselves well in the Group Stage managing to achieve third place and a spot in the last 32 Knockout Stages of the Europa League. (Utrecht failed to make the last 32). There the Braga fairy tale continued with successive wins against Lech, Liverpool, Dynamo Kiev and Benfica, all of whom had been favoured to finally put the Braga minnows in their place. But as it turned out their place was to prove to be Dublin, scene of the Europa League Final. (continue reading…)

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Celtic and Villarreal show the world a better way – Camaraderie not Enmity


Villarreal Celtic's friends

Last night, in Parallel Universe 483, the 2011 Europa League Final was played to a conclusion between Villarreal and Glasgow Celtic, with the favourites, the classy Spanish side, emerging victors by 3 goals in 1 in a highly entertaining game full of positive attacking football from both teams. In the end class told, with Villarreal’s world class forward pairing of Rossi and Nilmar proving far superior to the Celtic firepower of Hooper and Samaras. The skilful Borja Valero and Cazorla, the other two members of Villarreal ‘s Cuatro Fantastico of Hollywood fame, laid on far more chances than did Celtic’s midfield, and by the middle of the second half Rossi with two well taken goals and Nilmar with a classic solo effort had put Villarreal into a commanding lead that was never going to be surrendered. Kris Common’s late effort put a more competitive gloss on the final score without threatening the inevitability of the outcome. Celtic fans were left to speculate on what might have happened if Samaras had converted a stonewall opportunity when Villarreal were caught cold in the 4th minute.

Capdevila Izaguirre's equal

The one area of the game where Celtic competed on equal terms throughout was in defensive midfield where the combative Celtic duo of Kayal and Scott Brown proved a match for Villarreal’s more vaunted pair of dual Spanish internationalists Marcos Senna and Bruno. And Izaguirre with yet  another  fine display showed himself to belong in the same league as Villarreal’s Tommy Gemmell clone Joan Capdevila, world cup medal and all.

The last time Celtic played in this Final, in 2003,  they had felt aggrieved at the outcome, feeling that they had been denied a deserved victory by the over physicality of Jose Mourinho’s Porto. Barcelona sympathisers may take a little satisfaction from remembering that negatively attempting to kick more skilled opponents out of their stride is not a new Mourinho ploy, but one that has been present throughout his career as a manager. However on this occasion, in Dublin’s fine new stadium, there was no such sense of aggravation. With their well known generosity of spirit and sense of fair play, Celtic fans were able to acknowledge that justice was done, class told and the better team won, fairly and on merit. (continue reading…)

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Total Revolution at Villarreal brings first trophy

Villarreal CF The changing of the Guard

Consider this Villarreal lineup. In goal the safe and dependable Diego Lopez. For the back four at right back the highly experienced Javi Venta; at centre back the fabulous Double G force, Godin and Gonzalo, internationalists both; and at left back Marcano, a Spanish Under 21 internationalist.

A defensive midfield pairing of Marcos Senna, star of Spain’s Euro 2008 championship victory, alongside Eguren, a Uruguayan internationalist. Two highly skilled Argentinians in offensive midfield, Ibagaza and Escudero.

Further forward, an advanced midfielder Robert Pires playing behind the sole front man, the hard working Joseba Llorente.

That is a better side, certainly a better balanced side, than many of those played last season by Pellegrini’s replacement Valverde. Valverde’s teams never seemed to know exactly what he wanted them to do and how he wanted them to play. The team outlined above would know how to play the Villarreal way, after all except for  Marcano, all had been managed by Pellegrini and taught his ways.

 Yet not one of these 10 outfield players will be part of new Manager Garrido’s top team for the coming season. Indeed 8 of them have already left the club over the summer and the other two, Senna and Gonzalo Rodriquez,  have both had pretty clear messages that they are not part of Garrido’s first eleven, or in Gonzalo’s case not even part of the first team squad.

Godin Villarreal sell one of the top centre backs in the world

Of the 8 departees the most mourned and the most missed on the pitch will be Diego Godin. Godin was Villarreal’s best player last season, topping the Spanish statistical charts for successful tackles made, and generally proving his class as one of the best half dozen centre backs in world football. This status was confirmed in the World Cup where along with ex-Villarreal star Forlan, he helped guide Uruguay to the semi-finals. Last season President Fernando Roig had given hints that Godin might be sold but only if some club matched his valuation of 25 million euros. Now Godin has gone, to Atletico Madrid, and yet the Villarreal coffers have not been swelled by anything like that amount of money. The transfer arrangements have been complicated and shrouded in secrecy but it would appear that only about 7 million euros have actually come to Villarreal. Apparently Atletico Madrid have bought only 50% of the player for just under 10 million euros, with a commitment to buy the other 50% next summer. And it emerged that Villarreal only owned 70% of Godin in the first place, hence the diminished amount actually received.

There is some surprise that he has been sold to Atletico, given the grumblings all last season about Villarreal being handicapped by not yet receiving all the transfer fee agreed for Forlan, sold to Atletico in summer of 2007. And in letting them have Godin they have strengthened one of their direct rivals for those essential Champions League places, in their area of greatest weakness. Surely it would have been better selling him to an Italian or English club?

Frankly none of the other 7 will be greatly missed. Robert Pires was a great player with Villarreal and last season he had patches of inspired form and even scored some crucial goals. But even as a great Pires admirer, a s a man as well as a player, I cannot really argue with Garrido’s decision that his era at Villarreal was over. He would have been interested in going to Celtic but the thoughts there appear to have been that at pushing 37 he was too old. But Celtic could surely use a man who can hold the ball and pass it intelligently, controlling his side’s play  even if only in 45-60  minute bursts. It is a surprise, to Pires as well as others, that no other team has sought to access his fine football mind for one last swansong.

Javi Venta, a great club servant had overstayed his time at Villarreal. Marcano impressed Valverde but no-one else and has been lent to Getafe where he will play in the first team. Ibagaza and Escudero were both major disappointments last season. Eguren fell victim to a fatal combination of his ill-disciplined anger at Valverde’s incompetence and to the full maturation of Bruno into one of the best holding midfielders in Spain. Llorente was a grafter who would run all night for you but he blatantly lacked the class and control required at the highest level.

Other than Godin the release of the other seven brought in little hard revenue. Javi Venta, Pires and Ibagaza went free, out of contract. Marcano brought only a small fee for his loan. Llorente and Escudero brought in 5 million euros between them with more to come later if Boca purchase the other 50%. So overall only about 12.5 million euros was raised, but at least many of the highest earners were removed from the wage bill.

Marchena come to teach Villarreal how to win medals

To replace these 8 departures only two new faces have arrived at the club. Carlos Marchena the crude but determined warrior from Valencia who brings with him winners medals not just from the World Cup and Euro 2008 with Spain but also the Spanish League, the Spanish Cup and the UEFA Cup with Valencia. Marchena has more medals the rest of the Villarreal pool of 25 players put together and it is President Roig’s fervent hope that this proven ability to win will rub off on his new team mates. He is not as gifted or as subtle as either of the Double G duo, but he is probably more determined than both put together.

The other new face belongs to Borja Valero. Some might call him a West Brom reject but last season on loan at Mallorca he was the key influence in their very successful season. He ended up as the top rated player in the whole of Spain, above all the super stars of Barcelona and Real Madrid in Don Balon’s annual ratings. That ranking meant that over the last 6 seasons Villarreal have had 4 of the top ranked players Riquelme, Santi Cazorla, Senna and now Valero. Quite a record.

The money Villarreal spent on these two signings took around 7.5million of the 12.5 received from outgoing players, leaving the club with a transfer balance of around 5 million euros net profit. A useful contribution in the new era of austerity preached by Roig.

But the true story of the summer ins and outs is the ten players who have been added to Garrido’s first team squad at no extra cost. All ten of these newcomers have been promoted from last season’s Villarreal B team, who finished 6th in the Second Division at their first attempt despite Garrido regularly weakening the team by pulling key players away to sit on the first team bench.

(continue reading…)

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    GreenGreenWorld is a football blog produced by SISIF, (the Sherbrooke Institute for the Study of International Football). The SISIF Director, Sandy Jamieson, has been an active student of world football for over 40 years and has an extensive network of information, knowledge and contacts in Europe, South America and the rest of the football world. Although SISIF is based in Glasgow, Sandy currently spends most time at his home in Spain where he is finishing a book about Villarreal, “The Yellow Submarine”. He is a writer/consultant and his previously published novels “Own Goal” and “The Great Escape?” are available from Ringwood Publishing or Amazon. Mainstream published his previous book on Scottish football.
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