Bayern Munich are set to resume their UEFA Champions League campaign when they take on Villarreal in the quarter-final first leg on Wednesday.
The UEFA Champions League quarter-finals are set to get underway this midweek, with one of the tournament favourites, Bayern Munich resuming their campaign on Wednesday, travelling to El Madrigal to take on Villarreal in the first leg.
The Bavarians are coming on the back of an emphatic 8-2 aggregate victory over Red Bull Salzburg in the Round of 16 stage and will head to the quarter-finals as the firm favourites. There has been a hint of inconsistency in their performances on the domestic front, especially following back to back draws with Bayer Leverkusen and Hoffenheim last month.
But Bayern appear to have put their rough patch behind them, notably restarting their campaign with an emphatic 4-1 win over SC Freiburg on the weekend. Julian Nagelsmann will be aiming for a similar result up against a Villarreal side that caused a major upset by beating Juventus in the last round.
Indeed, the reigning Europa League champions beat the Italian giants 4-1 on aggregate, thanks to a resounding 3-0 victory in the second leg. It was a bizarre result considering the fact that the team has largely underperformed on the domestic front and are currently on a run of just one win in their last four league encounters.
Villarreal are dawdling in the seventh position in La Liga table and would require a major turnaround to finish in the top four. But that should not deter Unai Emery’s troops from providing a strong fight to Bayern Munich this midweek as we gear up for an exciting contest ahead.
Team News & Tactics
— Villarreal CF English (@VillarrealCFen) April 5, 2022
Villarreal appear certain to miss out on the services of left-back Alberto Moreno. His absence is unlikely to be consequential as Unai Emery looks to put his faith in Pervis Estupinan, whose athleticism and aggression could help him get the nod ahead of the technically astute Alfonso Pedraza at left-back.
Tactically, Emery is unlikely to shift to a 4-4-2 formation, with two banks of four providing cover for Geronimo Rulli in goal. While Pau Torres and Raul Albiol remain guaranteed starters at the heart of the Villarreal backline, Emery might look to add a bit more attacking drive at right-back by starting with Serge Aurier.
In the second line of press, the double-pivot of Dani Parejo and Etienne Capoue is going to be crucial. They have the experience to soak up the pressure from the Bayern Munich midfielders but may also need to offer a bit of aggression to make life difficult for Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka.
Giovani Lo Celso is always an option, should Emery look for more creative support in midfield. But the onus will largely be on the two wide players in, Yeremy Pino and Manu Trigueros, to offer the creative spark going forward.
Given Bayern Munich’s vulnerability in defence, especially in wide corridors, it will be imperative for both Trigueros and Pino to perform to their potential and offer maximum support to the centre forwards in Arnaut Danjuma and Gerard Moreno.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Rulli; Aurier, Albiol, Torres, Estupinan; Pino, Parejo, Capoue, Trigueros; Danjuma, Moreno
Bayern Munich have been boosted by the return of Alphonso Davies heading into this game. The left-back has been included in the trip to Villarreal, with coach Julian Nagelsmann confirming he is fit to start.
Julian Nagelsmann: "Phonzy will travel with us to Villarreal. His last exam went so well that he could play from the start. But we'll decide that during the day. In principle, I already have the idea of starting him tomorrow" pic.twitter.com/mZQJTgcFef
— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) April 5, 2022
On the flip side, though, Bayern are set to be without three players in Bouna Sarr, Corentin Tolisso and Kingsley Coman, due to injuries. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting is not in contention either due to his COVID-19 infection.
With Coman out, Nagelsmann could opt for a 4-2-3-1, with Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane and Thomas Muller forming the creative trifecta, just behind the main striker Robert Lewandowski. Jamal Musiala is a potential alternative, should Nagelsmann look to shuffle his pack a little.
In midfield, Leon Goretzka could get to start alongside Joshua Kimmich once again, though Marc Roca is a curious option given his experience in La Liga. Alternatively, Nagelsmann could rest Goretzka by opting for a 4-1-4-1, with Musiala operating as the partnering playmaker for Muller in the final third.
Defensively, Davies is unlikely to be risked as the Canadian is coming back after a long spell on the sidelines. Lucas Hernandez remains the deputise him at left-back. In fact, the only defensive change from Bayern this midweek could be the return of Niklas Sule at centre-back at the expense of Tanguy Nianzou.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Pavard, Sule, Upamecano, Hernandez; Kimmich, Goretzka; Gnabry, Muller, Sane; Lewandowski
- Robert Lewandowski is averaging a goal every 58 minutes in this season’s Champions League.
- Bayern Munich are appearing in the Champions League quarter-finals for a competition record 20th time.
- The last-16 first-leg draw at Salzburg was only the second of Bayern’s last 17 away European matches they have failed to win. They haven’t lost on the road in Europe since Matchday 1 of the 2017/18 Champions League groups (3-0 at Paris Saint-Germain).
- Bayern beat Villarreal home and away in the 2011/12 campaign before going on to reach the final.
- Following 3-0 home and away wins over Barcelona in the groups, Bayern are unbeaten in their last seven meetings with Spanish teams (W5, D2)
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Nagelsmann: "Villarreal is an experienced team with a very experienced coach. Danjuma is a very dangerous striker who has good pace and good movements. They showed against Juve that they can come back from behind. We are prepared for everything and will not be surprised" pic.twitter.com/RD2khfBzRX
— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) April 5, 2022
Arnaut Danjuma has played a key role behind Villarreal’s success in Europe this season. He has scored five goals in eight encounters while chipping in with an assist. Overall, the former Bournemouth frontman has netted 13 goals in just 28 competitive outings, making him one of the most in-demand attackers in Europe.
Julian Nagelsmann showered praise on Dutchman heading into this encounter, stating, “Danjuma is a very dangerous striker who has good pace and good movements.”
Danjuma can indeed cause problems for the Bayern Munich defence with his pace and ability to drift past defenders at ease. He also has a knack for scoring important goals, and it should come to the fore in this crucial encounter against the German Rekordmeister.
Villarreal 0-2 Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich should not have any difficulty dealing with the Villarreal crowd as they generally play well away from home. The Bavarians have an excellent record against Spanish teams as well, and given the return of key players such as Leon Goretzka, Alphonso Davies and Manuel Neuer, it is hard to imagine anything other than a win for Julian Nagelsmann’s troops.
A lot could depend on how they approach this game defensively, knowing Villarreal have enough firepower to surprise the Germans. The performance of Arnaut Danjuma, in that regard, could be vital in dictating the fate of the hosts.