Wednesday sees the 2022 UEFA Champions League quarterfinals when Villarreal hosts Bayern Munich. Both teams have just won a resounding victory in the second leg. Bayern Munich won 7-1 at home against RB Salzburg while Villarreal took a convincing 3-0 win on the road against Juventus.
After beating host Juventus by a scoreline of 3-0 in the second leg, Villarreal advanced to the Champions League quarterfinals. The Yellow Submarine now faces a much more difficult challenge as German champion Bayern Munich visits Spain for Wednesday’s match.
The German powerhouse failed to win its first leg at RB Salzburg and settled for a 1-1 draw. The Bavarians dominated the Red Bulls in their second leg, winning a 7-1 victory at home to win an 8-2 aggregate victory.
Bayern’s Saturday loss to Borussia Dortmund means that Bayern now holds a nine-point lead in the Bundesliga. All of the attention shifted to UCL after Paris Saint-Germain eliminated it in the quarterfinal round last year.
Villarreal is a solid tournament team under Unai Emery. The Yellow Submarine won this competition only because it beat Arsenal, Manchester United and won the Europa League crown last season.
Villarreal may not be one of the best Spanish teams, but its ability to defend well and force high turnovers in the high press makes Bayern an attractive matchup.
Villarreal is currently undervalued on the betting market, at least for the first leg at home.
Villarreal Deals with Taste of Regression
After being one of the top La Liga teams in January and February, Villarreal has finally seen a decline in form. The Yellow Submarine has now lost three of its four Spanish top-flight games, including 1-0 losses to Cadiz (Osasuna) and Osasuna (Osasuna). This past Saturday, the club was defeated by Levante by a score of 2-0.
Villarreal’s decline in form and poor performances were inevitable, but Emery has proven that he can effectively prepare his team for a tie such as this. Villarreal’s form has been much worse on the road than at home, and all three losses were suffered.
Villarreal is currently at its best, despite Alberto Moreno still being out due to injury. Arnaut Danjuma and Gerard Moreno would be a good team. Villarreal can counterattack effectively the visiting side by adding Danjuma’s ability to run into the channel between Bayern’s slow center backs and often pushed up backs.
Healthy Bayern Munich Looking Dangerous
Bayern Munich is becoming more healthy as they approach the business end. Bavarians dominated the reverse fixture and swept through their group with six wins.
Bayern will likely have Leon Goretzka and Alphonso Davies back at left-back and center midfield respectively. Goretzka adds stability to the midfield alongside Joshua Kimmich, while Davies gives pace and bursts up the left flank.
While the German side excels when it can play at a high tempo and in transition mode, Villarreal will not be able to engage in a back-and-forth transitional battle with its opponent. Bayern has been vulnerable to counterattacks in the middle of the pitch when it presses high up the pitch, as it is likely to do against Villarreal.
Bavarians seem to have recovered from the dip in form last month, scoring 16 goals in their four previous games in all competitions. This defense was not perfect. There are still defensive problems and there are teams that can attack in transition, such as Bayer Leverkusen, Salzburg, and Hoffenheim.
Pick & Analysis of Betting
Villarreal will be under a lot of pressure but has been very successful in Spain against those who want to win the ball. The Yellow Submarine is fifth in La Liga for pressure success rate and has conceded the third-fewest ball recovery in the Spanish first division.
With the ball at their feet, the project back four of the Yellow Submarine look pretty good. If they can break the first line of pressure, Bayern will immediately expose their defense. Although the Bavarians win this match more often than others, my calculations suggest that it ties more than the Germans win.
Villarreal won’t be able to win this time against an overrated Juventus team, but it can withstand Bayern’s pressure and keep the game more competitive than the betting markets suggest.
Pick: Villarreal +1