In the Zone: Juventus 0-3 Villarreal performance analysis
Friday, March 18, 2022
UEFA's Technical Observer panel analyses Villarreal's "disciplined" Champions League round of 16 win at Juventus, in which Juan Cuadrado and Gerónimo Rulli caught the eye.
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Villarreal reached their first UEFA Champions League quarter-final since 2008/09 with an impressive 3-0 win at Juventus on Wednesday night.
In this article, presented by Fedex, UEFA's Technical Observer panel assesses how Unai Emery's men succeeded in inflicting Juventus's joint-heaviest home loss in Europe, from their defensive organisation to their ruthless finishing.
0-1: Gerard Moreno (pen, 78)
Moreno had only entered the action four minutes earlier in what was his first outing for five-and-a-half weeks. He had failed to score from his previous penalty but, despite the high-pressure moment, he waited calmly and then drove his kick low to the left of Wojciech Szczęsny. The goalkeeper reached the ball with his fingertips but could not keep it out. In this game of fine margins, a moment of rash defending – Daniele Rugani's challenge on Francis Coquelin – provided Villarreal, and Moreno, with the opportunity they had waited for patiently.
0-2: Pau Torres (85)The home-grown centre-back's first Champions League goal – and Villarreal's second from a corner in this season's competition. Villarreal had five men in the box for Dani Parejo's delivery. Serge Aurier was one of three who headed for the near post, where he met the outswinger and flicked on for the unmarked Torres, who side-footed a volley into the turf and up into the net.
0-3: Arnaut Danjuma (pen, 90+2)
Moreno was involved again, stealing a bouncing ball from Danilo and racing into the box, where he teed up a shot for Danjuma. Matthijs de Ligt blocked the strike – but with his arm. Danjuma had kept working, showing the odd flash of danger, and here was his reward: he approached the penalty spot and as Szczęsny went down to his left, he shot low to the other side for his fifth goal of this campaign.
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Player of the match: Gerónimo Rulli
Juventus had five shots on goal but found no way past Rulli, who notably kept out a close-range Dušan Vlahović header in the first half. UEFA's technical observer in Turin said: "[Rulli] kept his team in the game with several saves, which allowed them to execute their game plan. He was very important and a big influence on the victory."
The home side set up in a 3-5-2 starting formation, with De Ligt (4) the central defender of the three at the back, flanked by Danilo (6) and Rugani (24), who was making his second start in this season's competition. Absent since the start of February with a calf injury, Giorgio Chiellini was only fit for the bench, while his usual partner, Leonardo Bonucci, missed out altogether with his own calf problem.
Of the Juventus wing-backs, Juan Cuadrado (11) on the right was their main source of balls into the box, providing 15 crosses – the most of any player in this week's matches.
In possession, the visitors had a 4-4-1-1 structure, with Giovani Lo Celso (17) playing off Danjuma (15) in attack. Unlike Juventus, they could again call on their first-choice centre-backs – skipper Raúl Albiol (3) and Pau Torres (4). Both men played important roles, Torres making seven clearances and winning all four of his duels, and Albiol contributing five clearances.
As a team, their defensive organisation was excellent. They sometimes used a high press in the first period, though the second half was more a case of defending deep as their shape morphed into a compact 5-4-1 – just as it had in the last ten minutes of the first leg.
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Party time for Villarreal ]]>🥳<![CDATA[
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Villarreal had kept only one clean sheet in the Champions League this season, but they impressed the UEFA observer with their defensive discipline, physical endurance and strong mentality.
Individually and as a unit, they defended well, dealing with most of the set-piece situations they faced. While Juventus had seven corners, they created only one real moment of menace: a Cuadrado first-half corner bounced up at Vlahović at the back post, but he could not direct it past Rulli.
In terms of possession, Villarreal had 53% of the ball in the first half but only 33% in the second. This meant that, overall, Juventus had a 58.2% share. These sides ended the week as first and second in the ranking for the longest possession times on average: 34.1 seconds for Juventus and 31.6 for Villarreal.
But it was actually when Juventus had less of the ball in the first half that they threatened most, with Vlahović testing Rulli from outside the box and then sweeping wing-back Mattia De Sciglio's low ball against the crossbar.
The hosts' main supply of balls came from the other flank, where Cuadrado showed impressive stamina to get up and down his wing and contribute five chances and five key passes along with his five completed crosses. He also registered five take-ons, four of them successful.
However, in the second half in particular, the Turin side lacked the creativity to break down a Villarreal side whose composure matched their organisation and discipline. Emery's introduction of the returning Moreno bore fruit, but the same did not apply with Massimiliano Allegri's decision to send on Paulo Dybala, the Juventus No10 who replaced Rugani in the 78th minute after a month out through injury.
Ultimately, Villarreal were the more efficient side, ending the night with eight shots and three on target – all of them goals. Juventus, by contrast, had 14 shots (including blocks) and five on target, but none found the net and so, for the third successive season, they fell short in the round of 16, this time 4-1 on aggregate.
Massimiliano Allegri, Juventus coach
"We had good chances in the first half; fewer in the second, because Villarreal started defending with 11 men, clearly trying to bring the game to extra time. Then that goal changed everything.
"Villarreal are a very expert team and they made the best of the chances they had, while we were very naive in conceding that penalty. We are sorry for the result because we had chances in the first leg and we had chances [in the second leg]."
Unai Emery, Villarreal coach
"Games go in different directions and we knew we'd need our keeper to play well and then wait for our moment. They looked more dangerous in the first half and then it was more even after the break.
"We had a game plan. We knew there'd be tough moments, but we looked after Gerard [Moreno] and wanted him to come on only when we knew it was right. He showed he's really back."