Emery, more than a cutting coach? / C1 / Quarters / Bayern-Villarreal /

Seventh in La Liga after 31 days, Villarreal has an appointment in Munich on Tuesday evening to move up to the second semi-final of the Champions League in its history, but above all because of Unai Emery’s near-perfect plan during the first leg. †


In the spring of 2018, immersed without a bracelet in the middle of his last hours in Paris, Unai Emery accepted a time of introspection with journalist Marti Perarnau. During a long interview for the magazine The tactical room, then we must see the Basque technician return in all directions to his 114 matches led with PSG, his past and his future, but also to praise the qualities of a system: the 4-4-2. Extract : “I’ve always thought that the 4-4-2 systems, which are back in fashion in Spain, are the best to prevent the opponent from breaking your lines. Because he has to pass three. For example, Marcelino’s teams are good because they are doing very well. It is very difficult to pass each of these three lines. His teams are trying to recover from a counter-attack, with the support of the two points and the two outer midfielders. Defensive positioning and counter-attacks. It is a system made for positioning in the zone, less aggressive, which is very difficult to exceed. † King of making tailor-made plans so that his group can dig into an opponent’s wounds as best they can, Unai Emery, just under four years after his lengthy discussion with Perarnau, was dealt another blow last Wednesday, this time against Villarreal. one of the current favorites of the Champions League: Bayern Munich. With what ? A 4-4-2 of course, which has already taken the Yellow Submarine to the heights of the Europa League last spring. “With Villarreal we knew what to expectconceded Benjamin Pavard after his team’s defeat in Spain (1-0). A very compact block, who knows how to play football, with a very good coach who achieves results everywhere. Villarreal did the perfect match, we were warned, congratulations to them. †

“With Villarreal we knew what to expect: a very compact unit, who knows how to play football, with a very good coach who gets results wherever he goes. Villarreal had the perfect match, we were warned, congratulations to them » Benjamin Pavard, good loser

This quarterfinal goes was yet another testament to Emery’s ability to tactically prepare an encounter according to his opponent’s strengths. If some teams work throughout the season to perfect a particular game plan as best they can, Villarreal, for its part, shines with its ability to adapt to the different profiles of its victims. We saw it last season in the Europa League, we saw it in the round of 16 against Juventus by Allegri, and this encounter against Bayern saw Unai Emery once again don his favorite costume: that of the chameleon. So against the Bavarians who had the ball most of the time (62%, which is in line with a Villarreal who had the 12and average La Liga possession, 48.5%) and were mainly deployed in 3-1-6 in the offensive phase (a trio of Pavard, Upamecano, Hernández to start the movements and Kimmich installed at the crossroads of the circuits behind the first yellow pressure line), Villarreal first shone on the defensive by closing the interior of the game (the axis and the two half spaces). Then, when Bayern touched their wings to breathe through Coman and Davies, the Spanish bloc, which Kimmich controlled relatively well, shone with its compactness and the complementarity of its elements in the management of the intervals (if a lateral – Foyth or Estupinan – came out, the wide midfielder or a central midfielder came to cover, and Villarreal was often outnumbered to fend off Munich approaches). In the end, Nagelsmann’s men scored just four of their 22 attempts, releasing a couple of forced crosses.

It was then still phase A of the plan. For stage B, we then saw Villarreal spread out certain targeted circuits, especially in the six metres. In several runs, Emery then asked Rulli, Pau Torres and Raúl Albiol to come up short to attract the high pressure of the two Bayern wingers (Coman and Gnabry) before stabbing to the sides via diagonals, released by the highly eccentric positions de Moreno and Danjuma who forced Davies and Pavard not to venture too far. At other times, Villarreal, who liked to stretch the distance between Dayot Upamecano and Lucas Hernández as long as possible throughout the evening, tried to push more directly towards Gerard Moreno and bet on the ideas of a Lo Celso who was structurally liberated due to the position of his number 7. We saw this especially with Danjuma’s goal and on the way to Munich, Villarreal certainly also thought of a few missed opportunities in a more unbridled second half. Unai Emery, on the other hand, has already moved on, focusing on everything he can control: preparing a new blueprint for what, in his own words, will be “the biggest challenge of his coaching career”

“Sometimes it feels like the team is changing”

The former PSG coach has a fact ahead of him – five European finals (in C3), four wins – and a legend. But behind this achievement are also a number of questions: what exactly is Emery worth over an entire season? Why was he never able to impose himself at a big club? Subject, who had difficulty piercing crampons on his foot because he “very hard to handle the pressure” , who has seen him struggle with intense fear for a long time, often answered these questions. On a bench, his Paris experience was marked by the defeat he suffered at Camp Nou (6-1) in 2017, a night when Unai Emery appeared nervous and overwhelmed by an unlikely scenario, while the first leg is likely to remain to this day . the best performance of the PSG QSI version in the Champions League† In addition, the Spanish coach also witnessed Monaco’s coronation in Ligue 1, and his PSG was knocked out by Real Madrid in 2018. Since then, Emery has received a lot of unwarranted criticism and shortcuts. asked in The team He recently said this: “I am living a love story with the Europa League, but I would like to experience a different story with the Champions League. It is a dream that I would like to work for and make it a reality. Today I think I am a better coach than when I was at PSG, especially in approaching key moments.”

Francis Coquelin, one of his executives at Villarrealadapts: “He is a coach who likes to build and bond groups around him. In Paris we may not have given him the necessary time. Here, when he gives his instructions, we try to apply them to the letter, because we know that he We see that his methods work in important matches, especially in the cup, because he galvanizes us over a period of time. He does that especially with young people, who he takes aside to explain to them what to do. them, reassure them and it works.” Therein lies the power of Unai Emery, an assassin to move his group toward a particular goal rather than taking him into a long battle. The Basque himself often admits that he is more stimulated by events than by marathons. As proof: last season Emery analyzed 17 Manchester United matches in preparation for the Europa League final. “La Liga is differentthe technician explained to The Athletic a few days ago. Europe stimulates you enormously and takes a lot of your energy. Tense encounters motivate me, because you always try to surprise the opposing team’s coach. You want your team to tactically outperform the other. † This method is more difficult to maintain during the 38 days of a championship.

“Before a European match, Unai passes on his emotional charge and his way of playing football to his playersdeciphered a few months ago Guillermo Abascal, Emery’s Former Seville Video Analyst became coach of FC Basel. He is able to convey that passion for every minute and every action of a game in that short amount of time. Sometimes it even feels like the team is changing. She becomes a predator for the opponent. † Ultimately, if we put his time at PSG aside, Unai Emery has never had a higher percentage of league wins than his European performance. He left Sevilla with 47% of the wins in La Liga and 63% of the success in the Europa League. The same record on the side of Arsenal (56% of wins in the Premier League, 79% in C3) or in Villarreal today (40% of success in La Liga, 56% in C1). In terms of ranking, always PSG separately, he never came above fifth place. Seventh in La Liga last season, his Yellow Submarine owes its presence in C1 this season to his virtuous career in C3. “Mr Emery is a coach who likes to prepare things from the bottom upCoquelin buckle. That is, he will focus point by point on our strengths and the weaknesses of our opponents. It will therefore go through video sessions that may seem long but, when the time comes, will prove to be effective. † After the victory over the Bavarian bogeyman in the first leg, it is therefore obvious that this recipe will be adjusted when putting on the overalls in the Allianz Arena. In 2011, Unai warned Emery: “Dominance is good, but control is better. You can dominate a match and lose it, but it’s very hard to lose it when you have it under control. There are players and teams who feel more comfortable without the ball. What’s shocking about that? Nothing. † On Monday, Julian Nagelsmann preferred to amplify his tone: “We made a lot of mistakes in the first leg. They did one: let us live. And we have to punish them for that. We will have to put in a lot more intensity. It is under pressure that diamonds are being formed and maybe tomorrow we will deliver a great match and if necessary we will have to play some more disgusting football… The duel can (re)start.

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