How “Villarreal Eye for Value” violated the Champions League Code

A great way to understand how Villarreal will find themselves – a football team from just 50,000-strong city playing in a stadium that can hold up to half of them – will find themselves in the semi-finals of the Champions League. Corridor of cleaning products of the leading Spanish supermarket.

Supermarket, Mercadona and Football Club are corporate cousins. Fernando Roig, president of Villarreal and philanthropist, has a minority stake in Mercadona, Spain’s largest retailer, but it is his brother, Juan, a majority shareholder who has been credited with making the latter a major learner for business schools around the world. .

The key to this approach is the idea that ultimately customers are responsible. They are, after all, the ones who determine what should be in the stock of their stores. To ensure that the company meets their needs, Mercadona often invites the most trusted clients to participate in a testing lab.

It is held in 10 stores in Spain and each is dedicated to a specific area of ​​business: for example, pet care, snacks or personal hygiene. Customers are asked not only to offer feedback on different products – packaging, price, taste, smell – but also to advise Mercadona staff on how to use them.

This is how Mercadona discovered that before many people bought white wine vinegar as a spice, they also used it to remove stains. “That’s why they created the vinegar cleanser,” Miguel Blanco, a professor of business economics at King Juan Carlos University, once told the Business Journal of the University of Pennsylvania Worton School. Mercadona, like Villarreal, understands that the attractiveness of a product depends on its use.

Villarreal, at first glance, do not follow in the footsteps of the few teams formed from the exclusive cabal of the fabulously rich clubs that have reached the semi-finals of the Champions League in recent years.

Monaco in 2017 and Ajax in 2019 felt a bit like watching the near future of football. Following the departure of Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund from Monaco, Killian Mbabane, Bernardo Silva and Fabinho have for the first time penetrated the wider consciousness of the sport. Ajax’s defeats to Real Madrid and Juventus on their way to the semi-finals two years later helped Frank de Jong and Matisse de Ligt become stars.

RB Laipzig, who reached the final of this bizarre, imaginary pandemic tournament in 2020, also looked at the team from the latest angle. It featured the likes of Deiot Upamecano and Christopher Nkunku and was led by Julian Nagelsmann, Pep Guardiola’s first-generation coaching standard bearer.

Villarreal, on the other hand, do not feel a vision of what will happen. The core of Unai Emery’s team is at home, with Gerard Moreno, Jeremy Pino, Alfonso Pedrazza and, in particular, Pau Torres, the confirmation of the outstanding work of the club’s universal admiring academy.

Except for 19-year-old Pino, none of them are particularly young, nor in terms of football. Torres, the club’s locally mined jeweler, is 25 years old, which means he is unlikely to inspire such a concern among the peaks of the transfer market that De Ligt has created in 2019.

Instead, around the footage of these alumni, Villarreal gives the impression of being a vintage shop in the Premier League, with its team full of faces vaguely familiar to English football fans. Are Vicente Iborra, a 34-year-old midfielder struggling to make an impact in Leicester City, and Pervi Estupinian, a young Ecuadorian left-back who has been spinning around the Watford loan plant for a while.

Etienne Capoue, 33, spent six years at Vicarage Road and established himself as a rare constant on the Watford team, defined by constant change. Alberto Moreno was released by Liverpool on a free transfer. Francis Cocklin first appeared in Arsenal. Danny Parekho had a brief stint at Queens Park Rangers. Arnavut Danjuma blinked and flew to Bournemouth.

And then there is the Tottenham contingent: Juan Foyt, the defender who lost his way; Serge Aurier, so be it; And Giovanni Lo Celso, an extravagantly talented midfielder who found himself in the cold after coming to Antonio Conte’s manager at Spurs late last year.

Even Emery, of course, returned to Spain after being given a somewhat difficult assignment to replace Arsene Wenger at Arsenal. His team at Villarreal, which defeated Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals, blocking Liverpool’s path to the third final of the Champions League for five years, was built on Premier League swimming and strolling.

Villarreal’s strategy experts say this is not a deliberate policy. Miguel ტngel Tenna, the club’s sporting director, and Fernando Roig Negeeroles, its chief executive – and the president’s son – have no plans to hack the Premier League’s pointless, wasteful customers.

Instead, there was a degree of opportunism. When, in the middle of last season, Emery needed a physically impressive, technically experienced central midfielder, he recalled that Capoue was impressed while in England. Capoue, who admitted he did not watch football, did not even know where Villarreal was when the offer came; He was simply touched by Emer’s faith in him.

Danjuma was another signature recommended by the manager: Villarreal analysts never looked at him when Emery suggested, after Villarreal won the Europa League last season, that the team had to pay $ 20 million for about $ 20 million, which had just been relegated to Bournemouth. . However the club paid the fee. Villarreal now believe that Danjuma, his outstanding star, will one day earn $ 100 million.

Others took advantage of the club’s edictive memory. Villarreal have long developed connections in South America in general and in Argentina in particular: when it last reached the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2006, it was with a team full of Boca Juniors alumni. His scout network long ago selected Foyth and Lo Celso.

Villarreal could not compete with England – or in the case of Paris Saint-Germain, Lo Celso – for the money when they first came to Europe, but the club are well aware that football can always bring a second chance, especially given how fast. English clubs, in particular, leave players.

It was this view that not only earned Emery the first major honor in Villarreal history – last year’s Europa League – but also led the team to 180 minutes of their biggest game: knowing that a product could have an alternative purpose, a more important role than indicated on the packaging.

And this is an approach that, while Villarreal may not be as compelling or exciting as Monaco or Ajax, may make its history more simulated, a little more inspiring in an era dominated by both superclubs and finances. The power of the Premier League.

Monaco’s success was largely built on the unparalleled talent of its main scout, Luis Campos. Ajax’s was a tribute to the club’s incomparable gift of nurturing and nurturing. But both contained elements of lightning strike: difficult – if not impossible – to repeat or repeat.

However, Villarreal offers a template that can be followed, a vision of how clubs can develop without the finances of the Premier League or without the weight of the continental European giants. This shows that it is possible to strengthen the holiday waste, to thrive in the growing Anglo-centric ecosystem of football, remember that the attractiveness of a product depends on its use.

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