UEFA Champions League Group Stage Preview: FC Bayern vs. Villarreal
FC Bayern has won 10 times in their last 11 Champions League home matches. The less we talk about that one defeat, the better it is for everyone involved.
But, before taking a look forward to the match against Villarreal, let's take a look back at the match against Dortmund.
Bayern 0, Dortmund 1
Two out of three of Bayern's defeats this season have come at home, and both have been defeats by a single goal. To me, a much more fair reflection would have been a 1-0 victory to Bayern or a 0-0 draw.
Bayern had 64 percent possession compared to Dortmund's 36 percent, and 15 shots to Dortmund's eight.
The first half was pretty even with Bayern the marginally better side.
In the second half, Bayern was the better side, but football is a game where you pay if you don't take your chances. Bayern paid the price for missing good chances.
One pass I cannot forget is Toni Kroos' pass in the first half—he did all the hard work and had an unmarked Mario Gomez ahead on his right but failed to play the ball to him and instead passed to a marked Franck Ribery on the left.
Nonetheless, the defensive midfield combo of Luis Gustavo and Kroos turned out to be a good one as many had expected.
The back four played a good match and were unfortunately undone by a small mistake by Jerome Boateng. He had, until then, played a very good match. Manuel Neuer made one great save and really couldn't do much when it came to the goal.
Bayern looked very good offensively when they threw the kitchen sink at Dortmund.
David Alaba, Ivica Olic and Nils Petersen came on. The movement and the number of players to mark had Dortmund rattled, but Bayern just could not covert. Bayern lost against Hanover for the same reason.
Against Gladbach, they failed to generate too much offensively in the first match of the season. (I have been reading Karl Heinz Rummenigge's comments about Marco Reus, and they sound interesting.)
Who should Heynckes go with on the right wing?
All the same, Bayern could have done with a bit more fluidity. Had Robben, Ribery, Thomas Mueller and Gomez changed positions from time to time, Bayern might have created better chances.
What has to be said is Mueller played in the hole behind the striker after a long time, and Robben played for 70 minutes for the first time since the first leg of the Champions League qualifier against Zurich.
Overall, it was one of those matches from which you simply have to move on. It will be a long wait from now to April when Bayern meets Dortmund at the Signal Iduna Park.
And who knows? They might finally beat Dortmund there for the first time in about two and a half years.
Bayern vs. Villarreal
Bayern got their group stage campaign off to a flier when they beat Villarreal at El Madrigal on match-day one. Kroos opened the scoring with a spectacular goal after seven minutes. Bayern went on to dominate and finished the match 0-2 winners.
Bayern has since gone on to record two more wins and a solitary draw. The draw came in Naples in a game Bayern perhaps should have won.
Villarreal's problems have been well documented this season. Nothing reflects just how poor a season they are having more than their Champions League standing. They are bottom of the table with no points from four matches.
On top of that, they have a huge injury list for this match. Cani, Javier Camunas and Cristian Zapata are doubtful for this match. Giuseppe Rossi and Nilmar are both out with long-term injuries.
Villarreal did record a win in the league in their most recent match, though. They beat Real Betis by a solitary goal at El Madrigal. Borja Valero was the man who made the difference.
Valero is very important to Villarreal's needs. Villarreal will be happy to use his services in this match.
Bayern is not without problems of their own, though. Bastian Schweinsteiger, as we all know, is injured for this match. Holger Badstuber is suspended on top of that thanks to a harsh red card against Napoli.
Arjen Robben has returned to fitness and proved exactly that by playing 70 minutes or so against Dortmund. His return to form will take some time after such a lengthy injury layoff. As a result, I think there is a small chance that Heynckes will go with David Alaba for this one.
Villarreal has conceded the most goals in this Champions League campaign—a total of nine.
Bayern has some impressive stats in this season's competition—they have scored the fourth highest number of goals (eight), recorded the fourth highest number of shots on target (33) and the fourth most possession (56 percent).
They have also suffered 65 fouls, only second to Napoli's tally of 69. According to the stats, Bayern has committed the highest number of fouls (75). This is a cause for concern.
Bayern needs a draw from this match to ensure qualification from this group. The minimum result Heynckes requires is a point. A victory for Bayern alongside a draw for City will ensure that Bayern finishes at the top of the group.
As for Villarreal, they are five points behind third-place Napoli. If they record a win and City beats Napoli, they are in with a chance to grab the Europa League spot.
Their chances of qualification for the round of 16 ended in the last match-day, as they are seven points behind the second-place team, City, in the group.
This is how Bayern will most likely line-up:
Rafinha- Boateng- Van Buyten- Lahm
Robben/Alaba- Mueller- Ribery
Finally, Villarreal is always capable of playing good football. Bayern is capable of playing brilliant football.
Bayern responds well after losing games. They have recorded wins in both of their games following losses so far. Fans will be hoping for a victory against Villarreal after a disappointment against the German champions.
And now, all we can do is wait.
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