The game: 1-0
On the scale of Villarreal’s history, that’s a pretty big feat. At the end of a very successful match, the Spaniards, perfectly organized and carried by an exceptional Giovani Lo Celso, beat Bayern Munich (1-0) and showed that their qualification in the previous round against Juventus Turin ( 1-1, 3-0) did not owe much to chance. With a little more efficiency, especially at the end of the match, the Spaniards should have even taken a greater advantage in view of the return match.
Unai Emery’s game plan with a very compact 4-4-2, hosted by the delicious Giovani Lo Celso, worked perfectly and extinguished the intentions of his counterpart Julian Nagelsmann. Very disciplined around an effective Capoue-Coquelin pair, the Spaniards limited Bavarian creativity. Neither Kingsley Coman, placed on the right side, and even less Serge Gnabry on the left managed to unbalance Villarreal’s block. Without creativity, weighed down by unusual technical errors, Bayern Munich, with the exception of a volley from Kimmich (23rd), never managed to create situations in the first half.
Unai Emery’s men opened the scoring with an entry goal from Danjuma (8th) after a nicely constructed collective action. They could even have ended this first period with a more substantial lead. Francis Coquelin’s goal, on a very lucky center-shot, was invalidated for an initial offside position (41st). Étienne Capoue, dominating in the midfield, saw his shot miss (45th +1). When it resumed, the balance of power did not change. And it was Villarreal who should have offered themselves a more substantial lead following a splendid strike from Moreno who finished his race on the post (53rd) then on a transition saved in extremis by Davies in front of Moreno (57th) .
Five minutes later, following a bad dismissal from Manuel Neuer, Moreno was still very close to freeing the Ceramics stadium. Bayern Munich, despite changes (entry of Sané in particular), struggled to be precise. Coman, in legs, could not find the opening. Rulli diverted a strike from Davies (66th). Villarreal will probably blame themselves for not having converted all their situations. Danjuma, alone against Neuer (66th) and Pedraza (87th) missed the opportunity. In the second leg, Bayern Munich will have to show a completely different face to qualify.
The player: Lo Celso, an evening delight
This winter, he could have joined OL. Instead, the Argentinian midfielder (25), on loan from Tottenham, lit up this quarter-final against Bayern Munich with his immense talent. The left-hander is a delicious player. And this Wednesday evening, he was essential for his volume of races and his creativity. Originally by his outside of the foot of the opener, the former Parisian was then a constant resource in the outings of the ball. And a poison in the transitions.
This outside opening from the left for the Dutch Danjuma would have deserved to be a decisive pass (68th). Like this return of the ball and this service for Pedraza (87th). Beyond his constant offensive contribution, Lo Celso will have been very valuable in the cover and climbs of Alphonso Davies. A complete game. Something to give some regrets to the Parisian supporters….
The fact: when Moreno does not take advantage of Neuer’s blunder…
In his nightmares, Gérard Moreno will no doubt remember this action in the 62nd minute for a long time. A sequence that could have changed the course of this quarter-final first leg. The Spanish international should have taken advantage of Manuel Neuer’s incredible blunder to make things worse. On a trivial ball, the Bavarian goalkeeper completely missed his clearance which landed on Moreno. But the Spaniard’s immediate shot went to the left of the frame… A huge wasted opportunity…