Europa League final pre-match tactical analysis: Villareal vs Man United
Villareal play a 4-4-2 where they press high with zonal triggers and use Moreno as the link man. Man United are similar in the sense that they press high in the 4-4-1-1 using the same zonal triggers. However, there’s stark differences between the teams.
Tactical Analysis on Villareal’s Playing Style ahead of Europa League Finals vs Man United
Villarreal are a good pressing team and can and probably will create opportunistic moments via pressing, but they lack the penetration and goal threat to truly trouble teams as a result of that pressing. Their attack lacks goals bar Moreno, and even at that he’s a to feet player which isn’t conducive to scoring in transitional situations. Again, in relation to their pressing, they typically don’t maintain their high press for the duration of a match because they lack outlets to do so – let me explain.
So, to get up the pitch reliably, a team must have players who excel athletically and offer passes into space. Against teams who are reliably good enough to keep the ball against you, you’re going to be forced back into a deeper defensive block. The team can get out in one or two ways in this situation.
First, they can pass out from the back using technical quality (which Villarreal have and are good at) or play direct to the outlets (which they don’t have). So, because of this, every time Man United sustain pressure or press high they know Villarreal are incapable of playing direct so are reliant on constant top technical quality to play out of Man United’s press, which is unreliable – Real Madrid couldn’t even achieve that against Chelsea (another top pressing team), let alone Villarreal.
Tactical Analysis on Man United ahead of their Europa League Finals vs Villareal
What are the implications as a result of this?
Firstly, it means that the game is in Man United’s hands. If they can prevent Villarreal from creating turnovers and winning the ball back when they do press high, Man United can either;
- Create in transition
- Force Villarreal back into their deeper block and sustain pressure.
However, in order to maintain that sustainment of pressure throughout the game, they have to be technically secure, and this will be difficult should Maguire not start.
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However, despite it being difficult, the back 7 Man United possess are more than capable and experienced enough to not make silly mistakes on the ball. This is the biggest game in Lindelof, Bailly, Fred, and McTominay’s life. They have to stamp their authority on the game from a technical perspective. They will be the primary ball handlers so they have to step up. The same applies to David De Gea/Henderson, Aaron Wan Bissaka and Luke Shaw.
When Maguire plays, he’s the leading technical presence in that build-up and they’re superb in that aspect, but when he doesn’t they lack a leader to offer assurance, composure, and quality. That’s where the likes of Lindelof, Fred, and McTominay need to step up.
If Man United are technically secure they’ll wipe the floor with Villarreal. It’ll take an almighty fluke for them to not win with ease if they’re technically secure – the only way Villareal win is through United errors. The Spaniards have little goal threat and no outlets.
If Man United are technically secure they can;
- Play through Villarreal’s press and create in that transitional situation + sustain pressure on their block with world class forwards.
- Another aspect where they need to be controlled is in long balls forward & second balls
Maguire is elite at controlling that area before the likes of McTominay and Fred sweep up the second balls but without him that CB-CB; MF-MF quartet need to sweep up those long balls when Villarreal clear it long. This again enables the sustainment of pressure.
Furthermore, if Villareal are forced back, another major method of chance creation for Utd is through pressing or counterpressing. They have so many ways to win this game. They’d be as assured to win as you can be in football with Maguire, but w/o him, they’re still heavy favourites.
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