It was their solid defence that aided Villarreal in knocking out German giants Bayern Munich out of the Champions League to script a shock elimination for the ages.
When Bayern were expected to walk out of the first leg in Spain as comfortable victors, Unai Emery’s men managed to keep a clean sheet at the Estadio la Ceramica and grab an unlikely winner early in the first half through Arnaut Danjuma. Bayern were left to rue their missed chances in that first leg and the Germans did not rectify their first leg mistakes even in the second leg.
Across both legs, Bayern racked up an astounding 45 shots but were only able to register 8 of them on target which resulted in just one goal scored through the individual brilliance of their talismanic striker, Robert Lewandowski. While regular goal sources such as Leroy Sane and Thomas Muller missed clear chances, Villarreal put out a commanding defensive performance to restrict Bayern’s attack.
Seasoned centre-back Raul Albiol and young Pau Torres in defence together made 20 clearances and blocked 3 shots in the second leg, according to whoscored.com. They were supported by the Yellow Submarine’s reliable CDM Etienne Capoue who made 10 clearances and had 2 successful interceptions and 2 successful tackles.
Even Villarreal’s forwards such as Gerrard Moreno and Danjuma were spotted regularly tracking back to maintain a sturdy yellow wall in front of the Bavarians. It’s this team effort that ensured that Villarreal remained in the tie and went on to score off a quick counter in the dying minutes of normal time.
Perhaps the perfect instance that captured the essence of Emery’s valiant Villarreal came early in the first half when Bayern had a freekick in front of the halfway line.
As Joshua Kimmich stood over the dead ball, the Yellow Submarine were putting up a high defensive line just outside the box and as soon as the German played the ball in, in one swift motion all Villarreal players moved forwards thereby catching the Bayern attackers in the offside trap successfully.
This clever move ensured that the goal threat in that play was extinguished immediately and football fans on Twitter absolutely loved it.
This small drill is often deployed by physically inferior teams to defend set pieces. In the past, Barcelona famously did it in the UCL in 2015 during a game against Paris Saint-Germain where all 10 players moved towards the halfway line in a quick move.
Once again, it was a Spanish team that performed the tactic with great success in the Champions League on Tuesday, who would now be looking forward to relying on such defensive trickery as Villarreal prepares for the Semi-Finals.
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