Sunday, April 30, 2006

Gunners sink the yellow submarine

18 April, 2 teams, both trying to make the finals of the champion league for the first time in their history.
Arsenal were aiming to set a record 10 clean sheets over the semi finals, while villareal aimed to be the first team since Sampdoria to make it to the final on their debuts.

After 93 years, all that remained were 90 mins, and the last European match at Highbury finished with the gunners carving out a slender 1-0 lead.

A week later, Arsenal travelled to El Madrigal for the second leg where they extended their clean sheet record to 10.
Unlucky as they were, a combination of Jens Lehman's reflexes and poor finishing cost Villareal a place in the final.
Juan Riquelme, for so long the spark of the team and matchwinner missed a penalty in the dying minutes. It was the least they deserved after puonding the arsenal goal endlessly.
Guillermo Franco was the main culprit of the match, spurning several glorious opprtunities to turn the game villareal's way.

Late in the game, Villareal were deservedly awarded apenalty. After their efforts, it was the least they deserved. Riquelme, a star of this UEFA Champions League season, stepped up to take responsibility but his spot-kick was pushed away by Lehmann, another stellar presence. It was not to be for the brave Spanish side.


Despite Riquelme saving the yellow submarine on numerous occasions, he cruelly missed a penalty.
It remains to be seen if this penalty miss would be the defining moment of his career, although not blamed for the penalty miss, it is evident the question of "what if" would be weighing heavily on his mind as that penalty would have forced extra time.

With that, i feel that that game might be Thierry Henry's penultimate European game.
Lets say that Arsenal triumphs and lift their first Champions League, why would Thierry Henry stay? What more is there left for him to achieve?

If they lose, Arsenal would ultimately not qualify for the Champion's league next year due to Spurs league position.
As much as Henry loves Arsenal, would he be willing to play UEFA Cup football? and wait at least 2 years to try and win the Champions league again?
Moreover what are the chances that a team can reach 2 finals in 3 years and win one?

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