Bayern vs Villarreal: Unai Emery's defensive masterclass knocks German giants out of Champions League

The 2-1 aggregate victory helped Villarreal to book a place in the final four of Europe’s elite club football competition for only the second time in their history.

Unai Emery in a file photo; Credit: Twitter/@ChampionsLeague
By Sreejith C R | Apr 13, 2022 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Unai Emery’s Villarreal produced one of the greatest upsets in UEFA Champions League history by knocking out six-time champions Bayern Munich out of the competition. The Yellow Submarine displayed a defensive masterclass to get the better of the German giants, with a 2-1 aggregate victory. The first leg at El Madrigal finished 1-0 in favour of Villarreal courtesy of Arnaut Danuma’s early strike while the second leg in Bavaria ended 1-1. Samuel Chukwueze’s late strike canceled out Robert Lewandowski’s opener. 

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The result helped Villarreal to book a place in the final four of Europe’s elite club football competition for only the second time in their history. The Spanish side will face either Liverpool or Benfica in the semi-finals. 

Emery’s men produced one of the finest counter-attacking footballs to get the better of the German giants. In the first leg, last week, Villarreal registered just one shot on target in the entire match and they managed to find the back of the net from that. Similarly, in the second leg also, the Yellow Submarine registered only a single shot on target and that was Chukweze’s equaliser in the 89th minute.  

Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann changed the formation, opting for a three-man defence instead of a back-four and deployed five attackers. Lewandowski led the attack with Thomas Mueller, Leroy Sane, Kingsley Coman and Jamal Musiala in support.

Yet for all their domination of possession, a Musiala’s header from Goretzka’s cross which went straight to the visiting goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli was Bayern’s only clear chance of a goal. Bayern were often forced to attack through the flanks because Villarreal was very tight and solid down the center.

Villarreal’s solid defence

The Villarreal defence led by Raul Albiol was supremely disciplined and maintained the shape throughout the 90 minutes. Despite having very little ball possession, the visitors created two good opportunities towards the end of the first half. Arnaut Danjuma and Gerard Moreno were released on goal, but both of them failed to test Manuel Neuer from promising positions. 

Sane was the busiest Bayern player on the night. The German international was causing all sorts of problems to Pervis Estupinan down the right flank. Four minutes into the second half, Sane did brilliantly to get past Estupinan and pull the ball back from the byline for an unmarked Upamecano inside the box, but the centre-back blazed his effort over the bar.

However, the hosts deservedly broke the deadlock on 52 minutes when Muller played the ball to Lewandoski on the edge of the box and the Polish striker’s low shot struck the inside of the post and went in. 

Four minutes later, Muller’s effort from Goretzka’s cross went over the bar, and a few moments later, the German international got another glorious chance when he got past his marker to get on the end of Sane’s beautiful in-swinging cross. But the 32-year-old missed a free-header from six yards. 

Counter-attacking football at its best

Just when it looked like the game was heading into extra time, Bayern were made to pay for their missed chances. Dani Parejo released Giovanni Lo Celso down the centre, the 26-year-old drove forward before playing a nice through ball for Moreno down the left channel and the Spaniard’s perfect ball across the face of goal was slotted home by substitute Chukwueze from six yards. It was a perfect breakaway goal which had both pace and precision.

This small club from a tiny town in northeastern Spain is punching above its weight, having defeated Manchester united, Juventus and Bayern to make it to the final four of the competition.  

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