Villarreal – Atalanta Bergamo: Quick Counters and Sharp Blows in Balanced Bout (2-2)
Neither Villarreal nor Atalanta had met before in their history, but those viewing events at El Madrigal will hope these two will continue such affairs for years to come. Unai Emery’s counterpressing locked horns against the wide rotations of Gian Piero Gasperini’s team, in a feisty tactical faceoff that makes the group stages worthwhile.
Tactical analysis and match report by Joel Parker.
United in the same group, Villarreal and Atalanta are prime examples of where smart recruitment and a strong tactical blueprint can get you. Two likeable clubs who punch well above their weight and have a very real prospect of getting into the knockout stages.
Although both ended their previous campaigns strongly, Villarreal and Atalanta haven’t started their domestic campaigns in the greatest of forms. Unai Emery’s team have drawn their first three matches, having victory snatched away in the cruellest of fashions in their previous game against Atlético Madrid.
Meanwhile, Atalanta has faced very rare spells of unproductive play. A fortunate win away to Torino on the opening day was followed by a goalless draw to Bologna and a surprise defeat to Fiorentina. Nevertheless, a kick start in the Champions League would result in a kick start to the season, and Young Boys’ historic win over Man United in the early kick-off only increased the stakes.
Three changes were made for Villarreal, in their usual 4-4-2 system. Dani Parejo came back to the heart of the midfield, which saw . . .