First off, the teams that Roma evaded: Manchester United, Bilbao, Olympiacos and a couple of weird Polish, Russian and
Belgian Romanian clubs. Plus, Spain is a short trip from Rome so less fatigue, more concentration yadda yadda yadda, Not too shabby. The Giallorossi don't travel to the cold this time but visit a city in the nice Valencian Community next Winter as they will entertain Villareal CF in February.
In typical Roma fashion, just as the news came out that Roma will meet Villareal on Monday, El Submarino Amarillo convincingly won 3-0 against Atletico Madrid that night. God help us all.
The Yellow Submarine is the most notable nickname of Villareal CF because they, uh, play in yellow shirts. Yeah, sounds logical. I guess FC Bananas, Real Soleil or Pudding United were already taken...
But don't underestimate this club boys and girls, even though they spend one season in second division (2012-2013), they are just below Atletico, Real and Barcelona in the Spanish picking order and on par with Sevilla in my opinion. Most memorable is their second place in the campaign of 2007-2008, they also reached the semi-final of the Champions League in 2006 where they narrowly got beaten by Arsenal after two games, 1-0.
These days are long gone you say? Perhaps, but last season they finished fourth in Spain and, like Roma, qualified for the CL qualifiers. And just like Roma they got eliminated. Their history isn't that big of a deal, no Spanish titles or cups worth mentioning in their trophy cabinet. A lot of famous and renowned players wore the yellow jersey though: Riquelme, Forlan, Rossi, Marcos Senna, Cani...
The fact that they can consistently end in the top 6 of La Liga and sometimes even scare Real or Barcelona on their turf, the stadium of El Madrigal, is enough reason to fear the Submarine. The current roster doesn't really include superstars like Messi, Zlatan or Ronaldo. You may recognize a certain Jose Angel, Luis Enrique's protegé during his Roman tenure 2011-2012 or eternal goalkeeping talent Sergio Asenjo.
Rüdiger and co also need to keep an eye on strikers Pato (former Milan) and Soldado. Especially Pato is nowhere near his prime anymore, but before you know it, he could explode on the European scene once again. Wanna bet five dollars it's against Roma? Ow, and expect Italian Sansone to release his inner Gareth Bale and perform outstanding against us. Don't say you didn't saw it coming.
All in all, it's quite a difficult match-up, for both teams. Both want to go as far as possible in this competition but only one of them will advance. Luckily for us, the first game is in Villareal where a draw (preferably with a goal or two) could prove vital in the end.
But enough Europa League for now, first things first: the important clash against Juventus on Saturday. Villareal can wait, as we'll only face them mid February, with hopefully a lot less injured bodies.
Otherwise, it may be Roma's time to turn into a submarine and drown in El Madrigal.