Villareal vs Man United Post Match Analysis: Villareal wins Europa League with a thrilling 11-11 Penalty shootouts as De Gea Miss on the spot
Echoing, reflecting and re-thinking about yesterday’s final. Seen many talks about boredom, trash tactics etc. Time to clear (once again, I feel obliged to) to some concepts that I think remain forgotten/need to be reminded of, especially in the context of a final.
1. Risk Aversion
The first ~20 minutes saw danger, the rest of the fixture less so. Classical risk-aversion & can’t blame either of the two. On one side, one that (another) trophyless season. On the other, the first big European trophy for Emery’s men. The stakes are obvious
2. Low-block does not equate boring
The definition of ‘boring’ is subjective. Playing a rather low-block makes sense against a side that struggles to break low-blocks without much space between the lines. Yes, Villarreal only had 37% possession, but that was not the problem.
3. Man United leaks
Man United failed to properly rotate with occupation of space. No surprise when for example Fred is injured (the Pogba -McTominay duo hasn’t played much together) and I’ve said it so often: Automatisms, in such fixtures, can revert the course of the game. But the leak has more.
Man United’s Positional Attacks
Counter-attacks are great, but the current players and or management of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer does not allow the break of low-blocks. Some players, like Bruno Fernandes or Rashford, had troubles implementing their comforted trademarks to influence the game.
The foundation was there, the build up was neat at times, Rashford and Luke Shaw found themselves in positive areas repeatedly. Cavani ran his socks off and was great until the gas ran out. But they didn’t have the numbers. The possession wasn’t used well enough.
4. Villarreal’s centre-back pairing
Torres defends, but he attacks. That is the most important. Albiol, perhaps less talented, did the job as well: They bailed Man United out, with threats being clear (especially through Greenwood) threats could be identified easily enough.
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5. Risk aversion, but not the first time
We have seen it all season. Few shots on target? No team wants to overcommit. Man United could not get overloads because of how Villarreal defended and they were forced to play ‘riskier’. A word in discontinuity because you know how the game ended.
6. Villarreal’s Interest
It was in Emery’s interest to play this, because he was brought to win. Those that complain about beautiful play(And yes, they’ve been a joy to watch throughout the season, but the final provides a different context) should know the impact.
Villareal’s Coach: Emery-ball
Emery needed to win. If he had gone all-in attack, Man United’s attack would have thrived with space. But they didn’t: Because Villarreal didn’t have to run much, and kept focus. Risk wasn’t needed, especially when Emery loves the UEL final. That explains the whole gameplay. Coquelin, Foyth, Alberto Moreno, Albiol, Paco Alcacer; Villarreal is a boneyard of players whose potential I had misplaced optimism in.
7. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s substitutions
The first substitution at the 100th minute? That shows perfectly one of his problems, where they had been clear before. Man United, without space are quite harmless. And they couldn’t really create the space needed. And that is what explains the risk-aversion of the final.
Man United’s The fear of imbalance
Ole Gunnar by subbing, could alternate the rhythm, for the better or the worse. Strategically, the mental level cannot be ignored. The psychology is key, in all definitions of the term. Subbing in and out can make it worse or better. Hence the subs.
8. Lindelof is unstable
Perhaps not the worst, but definitely far from the best. Without Maguire and even with him, his psychological side will always let him down, and Moreno’s goal shows it perfectly. I don’t think there’s a need for expansion: Still, Man United needs some Serious summer improvement.
I feel Man United have no one but themselves to blame for that. They weren’t just better on the night, they are clearly a better team generally. It wasn’t evenly matched in the slightest. Once Villarreal reached extra time you felt they fancied themselves on karmic value alone.