illarreal has a simple tactic to follow: score Cristiano Ronaldo for 90 minutes. You know what happens to him, if you give him a yard in the box, he will score.
Manchester United will look to use quick transitions to hit Villarreal, as United try to attack as much as possible. Red Devils aren’t the best organized, but they’re fluid at turning defense into offense.
On the other hand, Villarreal’s main strength is dominating the game by retaining possession. I think they will be able to do that, the Yellow Submarine are a different team at home and often slow down the game, maintaining a constant pace throughout. The teams are battling this, especially with the compact pitch of El Madrigal.
They have been very impressive in Europe at home over the past two seasons. They have a very small stadium. It’s not a hostile atmosphere where you feel intense pressure when you’re an away team, but it’s a very different experience from other clubs in Europe.
For this coming game, Villarreal need to be solid defensively and heavily involve Arnaut Danjuma as he has been their man of danger so far this season. He was unstoppable and full of confidence from day one.
He scored against Atlético Madrid from his first signing, and he hasn’t stopped scoring since. He is very powerful, which is not often seen in attacking players from Spanish clubs, as La Liga attacking players tend to be lighter.
For this game I expect Villarreal to start with Paco Alcacer up front, Danjuma on the left and Samuel Chukwueze on the right. Unai Emery has a choice of either a compact 4-4-2 or a wider 4-3-3, but I think he’ll go for the latter.
Paco Alcacer never had a smooth transition to start his career at Villarreal, but he has seemed lively this season and I think he’s getting closer to the best version of himself. He is not the strongest, nor the greatest, but very intelligent. United center-backs will have a hard time with him as they like to defend against tall and strong forwards and won’t like Alcacer showing up behind them.
Chukwueze is a very, very exciting prospect. He’s a left-handed right winger and that’s where he thrives. He is formidable in cutting off his favorite left foot. He enjoys receiving the ball wide and taking on defenders one by one. He is still very young but has been playing for a few seasons now and continues to learn.
Another young star to watch is the excellent Pau Torres, who, if he isn’t already, will soon be La Liga’s best center-back. In Spain we put a lot of importance on preparation, so central defenders have to be able to play with the ball, and he is very good for that in the first phase of the game. He continues to improve, to become more strong and ready for a long and successful career. He’s also a local boy, so it’s a great story.
Villarreal has all the tools to become an elite team, but they need to improve their mentality. I don’t know if it’s because they won silverware last year and have since taken their foot off the gas, or if they are just fighting in close matches and to win narrow victories. They don’t have the killer instinct to hit teams for four or five goals, which they should be capable of, given their team’s level of talent.
Emery has proven himself to be an elite coach, but that mentality is something they need to fight well, so they can fight at the top of La Liga and push to reach the final stages of the League. Europa. He has excluded himself from the race for the Newcastle position so all his attention is now focused on Villarreal’s progress on and off the pitch.
It has the makings of a great tactical battle between two talented clubs. It should be a great game, but since they play at home I think Villarreal has the advantage. It is a truly unique stadium which has proven to be difficult for visitors to play, especially in European football.
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