Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.

How Villarreal Upset the Odds in their Champions League Run?

Why Villarreal's Champions League run should be savored?

There is a sense that Villarreal has not been given the credit they deserve for their impressive run to the semi-finals of the Champions League. Usually, there is a lot of hype around an unfamiliar face making to the last four of Europe’s premier cup competition, like Ajax in the 2018-19 tournament, but Villarreal’s run didn’t seem to attract that buzz. 

Perhaps it is because the ‘Yellow Submarine’ doesn’t have the same reputation around the continent as the Amsterdam-based side or the fact they didn’t play the same attractive football for the most part of their journey — unlike Manchester United-bound Erik ten Hag’s de Godenzonen

Regardless, Unai Emery’s plucky outfit of Premier League misfits still deserves credit for their performances in the Champions League this season. For a side more accustomed to the Europa League, to reach the last four of the semi-finals of the Champions League would have been beyond the goals they set themselves at the beginning of the season. 

So, just how did Villarreal’s manager upset the football betting odds by going all the way to the last four of the Champions League? It appears to all boil down to their defensive doggedness and the ability to take their chances against superior opposition in the knockout stages. 

While they ultimately crumbled against Jürgen Klopp’s heavy metal Liverpool in the semi-finals — with a second-half collapse putting paid to any hope of a miracle comeback at la Cerámica after taking a 2-0 lead— Villarreal’s run was largely built on being a defensive unit and picking the right time to punish their opponent. 

“We have to play the long game,” Tottenham Hotspur loanee Giovani Lo Celso claimed, and that’s exactly what they did — sitting back patiently and waiting for opportunities to hit on the break. 

The 1-1 draw at home to Juventus in the round of 16 was the only knockout game in which Villarreal boasted greater possession than their opposition, which says a lot about the nature of their 3-0 win in Turin — where they scored with all three of their shots on target. 

That became a common theme for Villarreal. They came out of the blocks at home against Bayern Munich, scoring within eight minutes. But then sat back and soaked up the pressure from the German champions, while not having another attempt on target. 

At the Allianz, they set up defensively from the start — with the prolific Robert Lewandowski eventually breaking down the Yellow Submarine. But they countered fantastically in the last couple of minutes, and Samuel Chukwueze scored with their only shot on target again.

That is a reoccurring theme that carried on against Liverpool in the last four. After suffering a 2-0 defeat at Anfield, failing to force Alisson into making a single save in the entire 90 minutes, Emery’s men netted both of their only attempts on goal to briefly level the scores on aggregate. 

There’s no doubt that the lack of star players and big egos in the dressing room also plays its part at la Cerámica. As mentioned earlier, Emery has built a side made up mostly of players who largely failed to impress in the Premier League, more specifically in north London, but they gel together to make a decent side.

The lack of pressure and expectations must also help the players. It’s easy to say that the likes of Juan Foyth, Lo Celso, Serge Aurier, Francis Coquelin, and Alberto Moreno didn’t really impress in the Premier League. However, playing for Arsenal, Spurs, and Liverpool brings a lot more pressure. 

With a population of just 50,000, Villarreal is the smallest town to ever win the Europa League, but their fans are certainly not demanding. Following the defeat to Liverpool, there wasn’t a moan or groan amongst the home support inside la Cerámica. Instead, chants of ‘gracias’ broke out inside the mere 23,500 stadia. 

It’s certainly been a feel-good story from the 2021-22 football season. So, here’s hoping Villarreal, and teams like them can continue to be a thorn in the side of Europe’s elite — especially at a time when they tried to ruin the so-called ‘smaller sides’ with the European Super League.


Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Related Articles

Top Trending

violet myers passed away fake news
Exposing the Truth: Debunking the Violet Myers Passed Away Fake News Hoax
greatest famines in history
10 Greatest Famines in the History of World
Avatar The Last Airbender
Avatar' Reigns on Netflix, 'The Abyss' Emerges as Week's Top Watch
Barcelona Revokes Dani Alves' Legendary Status
Barcelona Revokes Dani Alves' Legendary Status: Shocking Update!
February 28 Zodiac
February 28 Zodiac: Personality Traits, Compatibility, and More

LIFESTYLE

Egyptian Cotton Sheets for Your Bed
A Beginner's Guide to Choosing the Perfect Egyptian Cotton Sheets for Your Bed
Long Lehenga Choli
Elegance Redefined: Navigating the Diverse World of Long Lehenga Choli Designs
valentines day outfits
Top 20 Trendy Valentine's Day Outfits in 2024 For Every Occasion
eldritch foundry
Unleash Your Imagination With Eldritch Foundry Custom Miniatures
jayda wayda braids
How Long Do Jayda Wayda Braids Last [Durability and Maintenance Tips]

Entertainment

Avatar The Last Airbender
Avatar' Reigns on Netflix, 'The Abyss' Emerges as Week's Top Watch
Taylor Swift Father Photographer Assault Accusation
Scott Swift, Taylor Swift's Dad, Faces Accusations From Photographer
female naruto characters
50 Most Iconic Female Naruto Characters [Ranked]
11 most paused movie scene
11 Most Paused Movie Scenes in Hollywood History
yugenanime
What Happened to Yugenanime: The Reason for Sudden Disappearance

GAMING

Most Played Games at Online Casinos
Discover the Most Played Games at Online Casinos
Crypto Gambling Innovations
Innovations in Crypto Gambling: Shaping the Future of Online Betting
User Experience Design in Online Casinos
The Role of User Experience Design in Online Casino Platforms
New Online Service for Fans of Sports Betting and Casino Games
A New Online Service for Fans of Sports Betting and Casino Games
Are Online Gaming Bonuses Worth Pursuing
Are Online Gaming Bonuses Worth Pursuing These Days?

BUSINESS

Work Life Balance Europe vs America Comparison
Europe vs America: Decoding Work-Life Balance Differences
Romania 28th Place EMEA Private Companies Ranking
Romania Rises to 28th in Top EMEA Destinations for Private Firms - PwC
Employee Advocacy
The Role of Employee Advocacy in Enhancing Your Online Reputation
Top 10 World's Wealthiest Men
Top 10 World's Wealthiest Men: 2024 Rankings Revealed
Complexities of Pricing Algorithms
Navigating the Complexities of Pricing Algorithms

TECHNOLOGY

Google Gemini Conversations Stored Years Default
Google's Gemini Set for Relaunch Post-Racial Controversy: Coming Soon!
Lenovo Transparent Laptop Future Computing
Lenovo's Transparent Laptop: A Glimpse into the Future of Computing
Google Apologizes for AI's Shocking Replies
Google Apologizes for AI's Shocking Replies on Controversial Figures
How to Encrypt Your Gmail Messages
Is Gmail Closing in August? Google Clears the Air
Software Development Career Success Tips
Tips For Succeeding In Your New Career As a Software Developer

HEALTH

Norovirus Cases Surge US Northeast CDC Report
US Norovirus Surge: CDC Highlights Spike in Northeast Cases
Top Healthiest and Unhealthiest Countries
Top Healthiest and Unhealthiest Countries Globally - 2024 Rankings
Best Way to Prevent Gum Disease
What is the Best Way to Prevent Gum Disease?
Norovirus Outbreak Northeast CDC Data
Norovirus Outbreak Hits Northeast: Latest CDC Data Reveals Spread
Brain Stimulation RTMS vs DTMS
Decoding Brain Stimulation Therapies: RTMS vs DTMS Explained