El Centrocampista

ALL AT SEA – The yellow submarine are sunk as Garrido gets it wrong.

Poor decisions and slack defending cost Villarreal in their opening Champions League game against Bayern Munich.

The Bavarians left El Madrigal last night with three points earned, but at times almost given.

Jupp Heynckes’ side showed their maturity and class in a game that occasionally showed glimpses of Villarreal’s potential, but also exposed their naivety and proneness to error.

The biggest mistake of the game for the yellow submarine occurred before kick-off.

In opting for Marcos Senna and Carlos Marchenna in the middle of the pitch, Juan Carlos Garrido allowed Bayern to stroll through the first half at whatever pace they desired, and when the Germans eventually put their foot on the throttle, it hurt.

Senna’s class is beyond doubt, but his legs are also beyond repair.

Garrido lost the tactical battle against Heynckes

The midfielder was never the quickest to begin with, but these days his lack of pace exposes him at this level.

A more sensible option would have been to bring on the veteran later in the game when his opponent’s were a yard slower from fatigue and he had some space in which to work his magic, but this was not to be the case.

Likewise, what Carlos Marchena has in guile, physical presence and ability to read the game, he equally lacks in creativity.

An excellent central defender, and possibly a good defensive midfielder too, but a creative force he is not.

I say this somewhat sombrely, but these days, if you took Marchena and Senna and fused them together, you would probably end up with a player capable of playing a full 90 minutes in the Champions Leauge as a midfielder.

This is no criticism of the players themselves (their quality is clear), but rather an empirical glance at their aging bodies and individual needs as a result.

Opting for Cani in midfield from kick off would have been a good start. His directness, running and creativity threatened Bayern occasionally upon introduction in the second 45, but at that stage it was too late.

Similarly, on the rare occasions that Giuseppe Rossi was allowed time to compete with Bayern’s central defenders, he looked more than capable of doing some damage.

One can only wonder what might have been if Cani, Rossi, and Nilmar (who also looked dangerous on occasion in the first half) were allowed a full 90 minutes together.

Aside from selection errors, the other killer for the team from Castellon was what is now quickly becoming a familiar thorn in their side this season.

Defending was at best last-ditch and at worst horrific. Despite criticisms levelled at him by some parties last season (criticisms that were often unwarranted), Villarreal are clearly missing the calm head of Joan Capdevila at the back. This, combined with a lack of effective pressure on the ball throughout the team, created far too many openings for Bayern and helped decide the outcome all too quickly.

The tragic thing is, for a large section of the game Villarreal did not look outclassed.

Bayern showed touches of brilliance at times, but in reality rarely looked dominant.

It was rather a combination of Villarreal’s lack of true quality play, and Bayern’s predatory ability to capitalise on mistakes (and there were plenty of those) that decided the tie.

In a group that after match day one looks wide open, the yellow submarine will rue their poor result tonight.

Three points or even one would have put them in an excellent position to stake a claim for at least second place in the group.

With this home loss however, they will have to re-think, re-structure, and eliminate stupid defensive errors if they hope to make any champions league progress.


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