What: Champions League – Group A
Who: Bayern Munich vs Villarreal
When: Tuesday 22nd November, 2011, at 19:45 UK time
Where: Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany

Domestic Slip-Up

Despite turning in some of the best performances in European and domestic football this season, German giants Bayern Munich unexpectedly stumbled against Borussia Dortmund on Saturday night. Die Roten will now have to quickly overcome their setback against the reigning Bundesliga champions as they prepare to meet struggling Villarreal in a game that could seal their qualification fate.

At the Allianz Arena, Bayern could not cope with the flash of brilliance from Dortmund’s players, who managed to surprise their hosts and clinch a win from what looked set to be a draw, according to Munich coach Jupp Heynckes: “When you play against Borussia Dortmund, one needs to build much more pressure than we have done today… We have not understood how to quicken the pace and create scoring chances. The goal was very unfortunate, in my view this was a typical 0-0 game.”

The German giants will hope the clash against Villarreal will hold different luck as their visitors are still without a win in Europe’s club blue ribbon competition. As such, victory for Heynckes’ men will grant them pole position in the group, and a chance to evade the continents’ other big sides in the knockout round.

Misfortune of Others

Villarreal earned a hard-fought 1-0 victory against fellow strugglers Real Betis over the weekend, but will have to greatly up their game should their visit north to Germany be fruitful. So far, nothing Villarreal have displayed this season has shown that they are legitimate contenders in Europe, with their disastrous Champions League campaign so far – with zero points – the perfect sign of more work being needed.

The win over Seville outfit Betis has nonetheless brought minor relief to a team that has been constantly criticised this season, as coach Juan Carlos Garrido praised his side’s “improvements”, with the boss now employing a more counter-attacking based system.

“We are adapting to the situation [counter-attack], where we may be playing more defensive and more counter-attacking. But, it’s time when we need to build up and grow little by little…The players know they must fight and work hard. And they’re doing so; they understand the situation and are doing a great job”, commented Garrido.

The Yellow Submarine will certainly put this plan into action against Bayern Munich, with real pride at stake in Germany. With no hope of qualification, Villarreal are undoubtedly the victims of this season’s Champions League group of death.

Recent form

Bayern Munich:
Bayern Munich 3-2 Napoli (02/11; Champions League)
Augsburg 1-2 Bayern Munich (06/11; Bundesliga)
Bayern Munich 0-1 Borussia Dortmund (19/11; Bundesliga)

Villarreal 0-3 Manchester City (02/11; Champions League)
Espanyol 0-0 Villarreal (06/11; La Liga)
Villarreal 1-0 Real Betis (19/11; La Liga)

Key absences

Bayern Munich: Bastian Schweinsteiger; Breno

Villarreal: Javier Camunas; Christian Zapata; Cani; Giuseppe Rossi; Nilmar

Players to watch

Bayern Munich – Mario Gomez: It is hot and cold with Mario Gomez. The striker either scores with abundance or not at all. Living through a good run now, Gomez will certainly pose a threat to the Villarreal defence, which might fall victim to his penalty-box finishing. A true predator in the final third.

Villarreal – Borja Valero: The playmaker was expected to pick up the pieces with Giuseppe Rossi and Nilmar on the sidelines, and has rightly done so, with a wonder goal against Real Betis a delight. His distribution and leadership in midfield will be at the heart of any Yellow Submarine surge.

Match Prediction

The outcome of this match looks to be decided as Villarreal hold no chance of fighting a Bayern side that are ruling the roost in Europe. The hosts will snatch Group A’s first place should they win this one, and at the Allianz Arena, they will do so, with a goal feast not improbable should the Yellow Submarine succumb early on.

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