Emery: ‘Losing Liverpool 0-2 is still lucky’
BrotherAdmitted to kicking to death against Liverpool, but coach Unai Emery was satisfied because Villarreal only lost 0-2 in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final on April 27.
“The outcome could have been much worse for Villarreal,” Emery reply Movistar+ after the game. “We tried to attack, pass, develop the ball, but Liverpool didn’t let Villarreal do anything. So the last resort of the team was to defend to hold out before the second leg. We have to be humble. and try to show a different side in the second leg. The whole team has to play with more intensity, like many other matches.”
Villarreal is the biggest surprise in this year’s Champions League. In the quarter-finals, they beat Bayern 1-0 at home, then drew 1-1 in the second leg at the Allianz Stadium to continue with a total score of 2-1. Before that, the representative of La Liga made a stronger impression when he defeated Juventus 4-1 in the round of 16. At that time, Villarreal drew 1-1 at El Madrigal, but suddenly won 3-0 in the rematch in Italy.
But marching to Anfield yesterday, Unai Emery’s army could not surprise. Villarreal is inferior Liverpool in all stats, with only 26% possession, 272 passes, two corners and just one shot, with Lo Celso’s kick wide. This parameter of Liverpool is respectively 74% of the time controlling, passing 737 lines, enjoying ten corners and finishing 19 times.
Emery also admitted that all pre-match calculations had collapsed because of Liverpool’s pressure. The Spanish coach said: “We know Liverpool are title contenders, stronger than Villarreal. But we want to prove that we can play fair with Liverpool. We haven’t been able to do that yet. Today, though. , Villarreal could have lost harder, and didn’t deserve a better result. I had a plan, but the attacking ideas failed. We didn’t do well even with the throw-in.”
The defensive play only helped Villarreal stand firm until the 53rd minute, when Jordan Henderson crossed the ball and touched Pervis Estupinan’s feet to change the trajectory, towards the home goal. 113 seconds later, Mohamed Salah created an assist for Sadio Mane to break the offside trap, pricking the toe of his shoe to send the ball low, making goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli unable to react.
When asked about the change in the second leg at El Madrigal on May 3, Emery emphasized: “In the Champions League semi-finals, you will meet strong opponents like Liverpool, and Villarreal does not have many opportunities to create surprises. We wanted to win today, but we couldn’t. The second leg will be very different, because we will play with a different style.”
In La Liga, Villarreal are seventh – the same position they were at the end of last season. However, they still participate in the Champions League this season when they beat Man Utd in the Europa League final in the 2020-2021 season. Before the Liverpool rematch, Emery’s teachers and students will be guests of Alaves in round 34 of La Liga.
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