On paper, Bayern Munich were the odds-on favorites to beat Villarreal over two legs and progress to the Champions League semifinals. That wasn’t the case, though, and despite dominating most of the second leg at the Allianz Arena, Bayern lost 2-1 on aggregate and missed out on the chance to take on Liverpool in the semifinals. Over the two legs, Julian Nagelsmann’s side just weren’t good enough, and played particularly poor in the first leg at the Estadio de la Cerámica.
Club captain Manuel Neuer recently reflected on how Bayern might’ve slightly underestimated their La Liga opponents in the Champions League and were perhaps a bit too confident that they’d get past them. “In the cup competitions we weren’t there in the important phase. Unfortunately, that was a fact, we have to do better. It’s never the case that we as Bayern Munich can assume that we’ll get through to the next round. But we have to take every opponent seriously and we have to take that with us into the new season,” Neuer explained (Sport Bild).
Of course, the same concept also applies for Bayern having been knocked out of the DFB-Pokal early on at the hands of Borussia Monchengladbach, but over recent seasons, Gladbach has genuinely proved to be a bit of a bogey team for Bayern domestically. Bayern’s recent history against Die Fohlen lends itself a little bit of leeway in terms of digesting a loss to them, but the 5-0 score line on that particular evening with a very strong starting eleven made it all the more difficult of a pill to swallow.
All things considered, the evidence was on the pitch for all to see. It seemed as if Bayern already had one eye on the semi-finals of the Champions League before taking care of business against Villarreal. In the end, Liverpool showed how beatable of a side they were despite Unai Emery’s side clawing back to first half goals in the second leg to make things temporarily nervy for Jurgen Klopp’s side. Liverpool ultimately won 5-2 on aggregate and are set to take on Real Madrid in the final in Paris on May 28th.
Club CEO Oliver Kahn also commented on the Villarreal tie and said that he was surprised with how well the Spaniards shone for themselves. “We were surprised at the quality with which Villarreal played, how they played out at the back. We assumed that they would rather play with long balls. They then played out at the back, that was the very best,” he explained.