Villarreal knocked out another favorite
Chelsea have Rüdiger, Jorginho, Lukaku and Kante who have had offers from other clubs. Or who were contemplating leaving themselves, like Romelu. At Bayern, Lewandowski is in talks with Barcelona and is set to leave as a free agent next summer. Neuer and Müller have a scramble with Kahn and Salihamidzic for millions of euros on new contracts. In Munich, the stars are unhappy that Luca Ernendas got a lot of money from the doorstep.
There are enough similar internal stories at MJ and Juventus. That’s partly why there are no such clubs in the semifinals of the Champions League, and why Villarreal are back there. And keep in mind that with the Spaniards’ ability to get into such a fight twice in twenty years, it’s much harder than being in a major cup final with the squad and club strength of MJ. But the Spaniards know how to be patient and fight, and they’re perfectly motivated. These guys love the “village” they represent.
Emery turned down a wild offer from Newcastle. Pau Torres turned down a move to Tottenham because he dreamed of playing in the Champions League. Of course, after this season, the owner of the “submarine” will let some players go. But Moreno, Parejo, Chuquese, Rulli and Albiol have already proven that it is an honor to represent the city of Villarreal and the surrounding villages. “Bayern” at the best of times was also a team of the eponymous federal state and small villages, but in the battle of motivations David won, not Goliath.
Sometimes the big and powerful are just doomed to defeat, because the small and not so skillful – no one is proving that Villarreal plays better soccer than Bayern itself – have will, character and desire. It should not be forgotten that the Spaniards are patriotic because of their roots. Emery has eight of the club’s pupils in his squad. More than Bayern, Real Madrid or Benfica. Only the passage of Ajax in the quarterfinals could move the Spaniards to second place. The Dutch have 12 guys of their own, but the status of the club from Amsterdam at home is very different. Ten Hague coaches Bayern from the Netherlands.
Unai Emery is a great duelist
Twenty-two times in the European Cup playoffs Emery went on with three different clubs – PSG, Sevilla and Villarreal. In Paris he came to a difficult club. Here, too, though, let’s evaluate the story fairly. “Barcelona bounced back against PSG after a 4-0 defeat in France, not only thanks to the class of Suarez, Neymar and Messi in 2017, but also thanks to Deniz Aytekin. The Turkish referee played on the side of a fabulous 6-1 comeback.
Emery was not supported in Paris as he used to be in Moscow. But Sevilla and Villarreal have adequate managers. Under their tutelage, Unai worked quietly and won many times in the Europa League playoffs. Yes, it’s not the Champions League, but it’s also a serious tournament. “Sevilla” is a tough team, as is “Villarreal”. The Spanish school of soccer is not dead. And if they lure Lewandowski and Mbappe (from the looks of things, Holand is being recruited in the APL), they can move on.
“Villarreal sacrificed La Liga for the sake of European competitions – three defeats in the last five games. But against Juventus, they played cool at the end of the return match. Against Bayern, there was a little less excitement, just surviving. The Germans had 45 shots in two games (compared to 16 for the “yellow submarine”), but it was Unai Emery’s charges who surfaced. There was a chance for the head coach to reach the sixth European Cup final of his career. He lost only one, the UEFA Super Cup against Chelsea, but in a penalty shootout.
Even with PSG, he had a chance of success, because remember that Barcelona after the “Remonade” flew out from Dibala and Juventus in the next round. Perhaps Emery would have been able to play differently and better against the Turin side? Even though there were times when the class of this mentor was doubted, it turned out to be just a matter of who exactly he coaches. It is unlikely that Unai could look cool at Real Madrid, they need a man with a different character – like Zidane or Ancelotti. But Villarreal became his team, just like Sevilla earlier.
That’s why we love the BCL
Cynically speaking, Liverpool and Bayern’s semifinals would have been more interesting and of higher quality. But we’ve seen that before, and a siege of a fortress is also a classic plot for a man of no intelligence, dating back to biblical times. “Villarreal deserved two shots on goal against Bayern and both of them were realized. Aren’t they beauties and heroes? It’s for stories like Ajax’s that we love the Champions League. Even if only a few make it to the finals, like Porto, but it is the best time in their lives.
“Villarreal, by the way, is more similar to the Dragons than the other underdogs of recent years. Mourinho, too, first won the UEFA Cup and then went with Alenichev for the Champions Cup. Experience plus inspiration is a cool combination. “Liverpool, if Benfica do not score today, need to be careful, they can run into a counterattack. Although the Spaniards have many times less budget than Bayern and Juventus, Emery has more than once proved his ability to pass the giants and never looked back at money.
Speaking of money. “Villarreal were proficient in positioning Danjuma – they took the lad from Bournemouth who scored 6 goals in the Champions League. Voigt also came in handy, as did loanee Lo Celso. Magic, Emery has even Tottenham players fighting for trophies. And seriously, it’s just competent people betting on those that others haven’t fully uncovered. Coquelin and Capoue a couple of years ago could not even dream of the semifinals of the Champions League. And Etienne does not like soccer, just like the golfer Bale – his partners are always teasing him for not knowing many famous players and not watching the games.
“Villarreal is an example of how an honest entrepreneur, who made billions selling ceramic tiles, created a cool club with two semifinals in the Champions League and repeated top-four finishes in the LE with a winning final against MJ. It’s a shame that the same Krasnodar are not destined to follow a similar path. It’s also sad that the grands are already actively stealing children from the “submarine” academy. But Pau Torres, Chukweze, Pino and Moreno were kept. Now they are destined to play in the semifinals of the Champions League, as Rickelme, Forlan and Sorin once did.
That time there was no luck to get past Arsenal, but let’s see what happens now, because we will meet with the English again. But we know two things for sure. Firstly, the enormous bonus of UEFA for the season with the semifinal of the Champions League will allow Villarreal to actively develop in the coming years. Secondly, Tuesday in the UEFA Champions League lived up to the highest expectations. Madrid had a great show of the rich and famous, with Modric and Benzema confirming their status as legends, and Munich saw a favorite and not-so-often playoff dish, the fall of the king.