As a surprise guest of the Champions League semi-finals, Villarreal plans to put Liverpool on the list after Juventus and Bayern. The Spanish club, led by Unai Emery and French midfield duo Coquelin-Capoue, have reason to believe in the feat.
Unai Emery, the guide
Unai Emery was sidelined for a few months after his dismissal from Arsenal. Then he arrived in Villarreal in the summer of 2020 and has been living a fairytale ever since. Last year he won the Europa League and led the club to their second semi-final of the Champions League this season, 16 years after the first in 2006. “I already had a lot of respect for Emery and Villarreal, but right now… Wow. impressive,” Jürgen Klopp admitted at a press conference this week.
Put something in its place and do it, it’s happened to me before with other coaches, explained Etienne Capoue to RMC Sport† But with him it’s all the time. He always has a new tactic, a new vision. He is for everything. I wonder how he does it. To me he is a genius.” Francis Coquelin says nothing else: “Today he shows everyone that maybe the big clubs should have waited a little longer and trusted him sometimes.”
A chameleon team
The yellow submarine knows how to change face: offensive and player when it’s necessary to make a difference, in retreat and defensively solid when it comes to maintaining a result. “Villarreal is a team that adapts”, confirms Francis Coquelin† The Frenchman admits that in the beginning the philosophy of the coach and the players is based on possession and playing with the ball. But nothing is certain.
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The double showdown against Bayern Munich, in the quarter-finals, was the perfect illustration. In the first leg, Villarreal managed to project himself, create chances and win 1-0. Unai Emery’s players could have scored even more without it being stolen. Then on the return the team managed to flee, defend as a whole and operate on the counter, to Chukwueze qualifier goal† A little Klopp, a little Simeone, here’s Villarreal.
No complexes against Liverpool
After knocking out Juventus in the eighth finals and Bayern in the quarter-finals, Villarreal is on a roll. “We have the level to meet teams of Liverpool’s level, this week assured Dani Parejo, the Spanish midfielder. We have every confidence in the world, not only thanks to this season, but also after winning the Europa League last season. without losing a single game.”
In the club’s ranks in the Valencia region, we also keep the statements and behavior of the quarter-finals in mind. “Bayern, I think they got us a little high and we’re in the semi-finals,” Francis Coquelin tackles. The French recognize that little thumb status could help Villarreal. “But I think the element of surprise will slowly fade now.”
Danjuma, the decisive striker
Gerard Moreno, who has been injured too often this season, has not regained his efficiency from last year. It is even very uncertain for the first leg against Liverpool on Wednesday evening. But Villarreal has another providential man on the attack. Arnaut Danjuma, the most expensive man in the club’s history to arrive last summer, has a string of goals, especially in the Champions League.
Scorer in the two wins over Juventus and Bayern, he was also in the group stage against Atalanta, back and forth, and against Young Boys Bern. Danjuma, a Nigerian-born but Dutch international, can play on one side or up front and will be the man to watch in the Reds’ defence.
Torres-Albiol, an insurmountable hinge
Virgil Van Dijk, referring to the position, went four ways there when asked in a press conference about the players who impressed him on the side of Villarreal. “Their power plants are incredible, the Dutchman explained. Raul Albiol and Pau Torres are very experienced and fantastic.”
Between the young Torres, 25, who discovered the Champions League this season, and Raul Albiol, 36 and 11 C1 campaigns on the clock, the balance is perfect. In the league, however far from the first places, Villarreal shows one of the best defenses, behind Sevilla and Real. And on the European stage, the Yellow Submarine conceded just two goals in four games against Juventus and Bayern Munich. firm.