With Bayern Munich set to take on Villarreal in the quarter finals of the Champions League this week, we thought it would be a good idea to ask an actual Villarreal fan and expert some questions about the game. Enter Zhhicks of Villarreal USA to do just that!
Here’s what we happened to ask him ...
What is Unai Emery’s basic setup for a team like Bayern?
Against a team like Bayern, out of possession you’re going to see Villarreal in two very organized banks of four and a 4-4-2. He did it against Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Atletico, he’ll do it here.
It’s a bit of a misconception that Unai Emery is a ‘defensive’ manager, but he is a defense first manager, if you can see the difference I am attempting. He wants to attack but not at the expense of his positional system. We are going to be organized, we are going to be fairly press resistant, and then if Bayern gets frustrated and overextends themselves forward, we will attack.
What aspect of the game would you describe as your key strength in the Champions League?
Unai Emery gives this side a belief that everything will turn out fine in the end, no matter how difficult the time leading up to the very end is. This is how we ended up in a penalty shootout against Chelsea, this is how we blew out Juventus in Turin after taking a beating for the first hour of the game.
The other factor here is Gerard Moreno. The team absolutely believes that he will score a big goal when we need it, and more than any of the tactics or matchups or lineups it is the belief that those two men give this club that let them punch above their weight in the Champions League.
Who are the key players at Villarreal that Bayern fans should watch out for?
The answer is Gerard Moreno. In the last round of the Champions league we were 1-1 with Juventus in 160 minutes of play on the pitch and 3-0 in the 20 minutes he was actually on the field. The entire team believes that if they can get him the ball in a big match he will make the difference, and they are usually right.
He was a Ballon D’or candidate last year and it was very well deserved. He absolutely carried us to a Europa League title.
Villarreal seem a lot stronger in the UCL than they do in La Liga, why is that?
We have yet to face a team in the Champions League that I believe would finish above us in La Liga. [Editor’s note: Serious shade being thrown at Juventus here.]
We’ve faced at least five such teams here in Spain. This will change when we face Bayern, obviously, but quite simply, up to this point the quality of opposition in La Liga has been harder than it’s been in Europe. We also have just had injury problems. Gerard has only played half our league matches, our other best attacker, Danjuma, has only played in 2/3rds of them. We had a spell in January where players were missing due to injury and then on top of that we had four separate players go play in AFCON, and it is tough to plug those gaps week after week.
How does the fanbase feel about this game? What do you guys know about Bayern coming into this?
I think we are mostly just excited. Before the season started, we just wanted to make the knockout stages. Then we drew Juventus and we felt fairly confident that we could make it one more round. We are playing with house money now and we know Bayern is one of the very best sides in Europe but under Unai Emery we’ve never been knocked out of European competition and we’ve always been competitive so let’s just go for it.
Huge thanks to Zhhicks for taking the time to do this QandA with us! If you’re looking for coverage of this tie from a Villareal context, as well as our version of this QandA (answered by yours truly) check out Villarreal USA. And if you’re looking for an in depth preview of the tie from a Bayern perspective, why not check out our preview podcast? Listen to it below or at this link.
As always, we appreciate all the support!