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UEFA Champions League: Villareal Need to Demonstrate They can Compete at The Very Top, Says Jofre Mateu

By: Vivek Ganapathy

Last Updated: April 12, 2022, 08:35 IST

Bayern Munich vs Villareal, UEFA Champions League (Twitter)

Bayern Munich vs Villareal, UEFA Champions League (Twitter)

Fighting for their first UCL semifinal berth since 2006, a special night awaits the Yellow Submarine in Europe’s premier tournament and the players would certainly want to enjoy the moment and play their hearts out. However, Villareal need to prove that they can compete at the very top

In probably the biggest shock of the season yet, Spanish outfit Villareal head to the Allianz Arena holding a slender one-goal advantage as they take on German champions Bayern Munich in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League Quarterfinal round.

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Unai Emery, an advocate of deep video analysis and critical inspection of the opposition tactics, might be stringent and conservative in his approach to the game as he sets out to field his 11 to face the much-feared Bayern Munich in their backyard.

“Yes, it is. And to be honest everyone here in Sapin, including Villareal feel that the score isn’t enough as they could have scored two or three goals,” says former Barcelona midfielder Jofre Mateu.

Villareal could have possibly had at least a couple of goals more entering the second leg of the tie had they managed to be more clinical in front of goal at Estadio de la Ceramica. Instead, they let the dangerous Bavarians off the hook and now need to defend a dodgy single goal lead.

Fighting for their first UCL semifinal berth since 2006, a special night awaits the Yellow Submarine in Europe’s premier tournament and the players would certainly want to enjoy the moment and play their hearts out. However, the Spanish team needs to demonstrate that they can compete at the very top.

“Now, the score (difference) is too small and it is going to be very difficult in Munich. Everyone knows how Bayen can react. And one goal isn’t that huge a lead to surmount,” feels the midfielder who played for ISL team FC Goa for three years.

“So, I think it’s not a day to enjoy, per se, for Villareal. As they showed in Italy against Juventus, they feel ready, they feel they are capable of doing it, but it is not completely tactical, rather, it is about how to compete,” explains Mateu, who made over a century of appearances for Spanish club Levante.

Villareal pulled off a major upset as they knocked out Italian giants Juventus en route to the last eight rounds of the illustrious European tournament.

And once again, Villareal could be lying in wait for such a situation in a bid to illustrate that there is more to them than showing up and putting up a futile fight before returning to Spain.

They want to power through to the next round and they might feel up to the task at hand. However, complicated.

“It is not going to be easy, but I think Emery would put his faith in his team,” believes Mateu.

UEFA Champions League: Unai Emery's Villarreal Eye Another Giant-Killing at Bayern Munich

Football: Grace or Grit

With Atletico Madrid gearing up to face Manchester City in the return fixture of their one-goal loss in England last week, Diego Simeone has another opportunity to better Pep Guardiola’s football art form with the help of his new-age Atletico backline that seems to have one united motive of thwarting any opportunities of opposition offence.

Atletico Madrid, synonymous with ultra-defensive tactics, also boasts the attacking acumen of Luis Suarez and Joao Felix who could be a threat at the business end of the pitch.

If Simeone can find a way of pairing the defensive resolve his team displayed in the first leg laced with moments of constructive attacking patterns spearheaded by one of his deadly strikers who could hit any team on the counter, Atletico could well pull off an upset at the Wanda Metropolitano.

But here is the conundrum El Cholo is faced with. When deploying a striker like Suarez, the set-up would naturally be inclined towards the opposition box. A set-up that would alter the defensive identity of a team that has been drilled to shield the net in a pack.

“I don’t feel that Simeone is imagining a game with (playing) a lot of minutes around Manchester City’s area, so he could be playing Joao Felix,” explains the midfielder who has over three hundred Spanish Secunda Division appearances to his name.

“And he needs one or two players to run. They have Marcos Llorente and Yannick Carrasco on the wings who have the legs to run up and down the field.”

Playing expansive attacking football against a team like Manchester City might not always be the best idea for teams as Guardiola’s men can cut the opposition team to ribbons when on a song without any complications.

Simeone would probably err on the side of caution and enforce his tried and tested method once again against the English champions.

“I’m not expecting a very different tactical approach from Simeone. Maybe a couple of different player introductions mid-game, but I expect very similar gameplay to the earlier fixture,” concluded the 42-year-old Spaniard.

Watch UEFA Champions League 2021-22 (Quarter-final Leg 2) – Chelsea vs. Real Madrid LIVE on SONY TEN 2 (English), SONY TEN 3 (Hindi) & SONY TEN 4 (Tamil & Telugu) channels on April 13, 2022, from 12:30 am IST

Watch UEFA Champions League 2021-22 (Quarter-final Leg 2) – Villarreal vs. Bayern LIVE on SONY TEN 1 (English) channels on April 13, 2022, from 12:30 am IST.

Watch UEFA Champions League 2021-22 (Quarter-final Leg 2) – LIVE on SONY TEN 2, SONY TEN 1 (English), SONY TEN 3 (Hindi) & SONY TEN 4 (Tamil & Telugu) channels from April 13, 2022, at 12:30 am IST.

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first published:April 12, 2022, 08:00 IST
last updated:April 12, 2022, 08:35 IST