The stage is set, and the UCL Quarterfinals will be here soon. Bayern Munich will have the tedious task of facing Villarreal, a club well versed with the nitty-gritties of European football, having recently won the Europa League. But yes, the Champions League is a completely different ballgame, and they certainly wouldn’t be very happy with the outcome of the draw. Bayern is a nightmare to face for any team.
That being said, El Submarino Amarillo absolutely deserve their spot in the quarterfinals, having dispatched Juventus with a good beating. A 3-0 away victory sealed the deal for them and signaled to Europe that they’re back in it, and they mean business.
So you may ask: pray tell, how on earth is Villarreal a great UCL draw? And to that I say, here are your three reasons:
A great tactical fit
A team that likes to park the bus? Check. A team that thrives on the counter? Check. A team that’s not very comfortable in possession? Check.
Bayern Munich is, tactically speaking, Villarreal’s kryptonite. Agreed, Villarreal can be difficult to score against and would certainly be a tiring fixture, but the Bavarians thrive with higher possession and the opportunity to dictate the tempo of the game. Yes, Villarreal’s counters can be a nightmare to deal with if the defense has some farts (which has happened often this season), but if Bayern can manage to score the first goal, the tie is more or less won, because this would mean that the onus would be on Villarreal to venture out and score, and that means giving Bayern more space to attack and counter.
And one thing you just cannot do against Bayern is giving them space. Because they will punish you.
If Nagelsmann sets up Sané and Gnabry/Coman like he did against Salzburg, getting the ball efficiently to Müller and Lewandowski to exploit or dragging the defenders wide to create more space for the magical duo, there could be goals aplenty. However, since Villarreal tend to play a three-man midfield, Kimmich and Goretzka will have their work cut out for them if they are the starting midfield pairing. However, with Davies potentially back in the fray, the defensive issues can be ironed out, while increasing the sharpness of the attack.
Bayern is built to hammer teams like Villarreal. Let’s hope Nagelsmann can plan and execute this to perfection.
A challenging test, but one that Bayern should pass
Villarreal is a team filled with a great balance of youth and experience. And they’ve got players like Gerard Moreno, Pau Torres, Samuel Chukwueze, Giovani Lo Celso, and Arnaut Danjuma, who can turn a game on its head by themselves. These are players with a lot of talent and skill that can pose problems for the best of teams. However, Bayern Munich is a completely different matter and possesses a squad that is just outright better than Villarreal’s in every position.
In Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Müller, Manuel Neuer, Joshua Kimmich, Alphonso Davies, Lucas Hernandez, and Leroy Sané, the Bavarians boast arguably the best footballers in the world in their respective positions. Add to that the caliber of players like Kingsley Coman, Serge Gnabry, and Jamal Musiala who are proven big-game players, and you have an opponent that is too much of an ask, even for a team as well balanced as Villarreal.
That being said, yes, UCL knockouts are a matter of 180 minutes, and the better team on paper does not always qualify. Villarreal are a team that have just what it takes to upset some of Europe’s biggest, baddest clubs, but with things clicking into gear and Nagelsmann figuring things out tactically, you get the feeling that Bayern will be primed to dispatch the Spanish side from the competition.
It’s most certainly going to be a fierce battle, but right now it definitely feels like Bayern has too much to throw at Villarreal, who may be able to evade a few blows, but not all.
A win should boost UCL title hopes
I repeat - Villarreal is a very good side. These fixtures won’t be pretty. There will be a lot of gruelling physical tussles involved. There will also be massive tactical tussles between the two coaches. But that would also make victory all the more enjoyable. Beating a good quality opponent in the UCL sends a message: that you’re here to fight, and you’ll do all you can to bag Big Ol’ Ears. And that’s exactly what progression would achieve for Bayern.
Few teams have been as consistent in Europe as Bayern. Nobody wants to face this club in the knockout stages. Bayern will have to face trickier, more difficult opponents in the event that they qualify. But since Villarreal will not be easy, this team would be ready for potential future challenges.
Nagelsmann’s January and February perhaps didn’t go as per plan, but the team is starting to find its groove during the crucial stretch, and 2 resounding victories against Villarreal in both legs would be the perfect way to get things right on track. This squad has gone the distance just over 18 months ago, and there is absolutely no reason why they cannot repeat the feat again.
And beating Villarreal could be the catalyst to achieving just that.
Looking for a full breakdown of the draw? Look no further! We have a special edition reaction show were we took an in-depth look at Bayern’s matchup against Villarreal, as well as the rest of the brackets in the UCL quarters and potential semi-final matchups. Check it out below or at this link.
As always, we appreciate all your support!