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Villarreal at Young Boys: Champions League Preview

Unai Emery finds himself with his back against the wall as European play returns.

Villarreal CF v Granada CF - La Liga Santander Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Okay, here’s the group situation going into matchday three. Atalanta have to travel to Old Trafford, which as we know is no picnic. I think we should actually root for either an Atalanta win here or a draw. If both us and Atalanta win, we catapult to second in the group. If Atalanta draw Manchester United, we’ll probably be sitting in third on tiebreakers but head to head wins against either of them could catapult us above them in the future. In any scenario, we must defeat Young Boys.

Our Opponents

Having already stunned Manchester United and only barely lost to Atalanta, we should not kid ourselves into thinking this is somehow the gimme match of the group, particularly on the road. We need to show up ready to play. With a game in hand, they sit in third place in the Swiss league, four points behind FC Basel. Christian Fassnacht and American Jordan Pefok lead their team in scoring, though their leading assist man is Felix Mambimbi, who usually comes off the bench. If he gets introduced, be wary.

This is, of course, the first time we’ve ever played Young Boys, and actually the only matches we’ve played against Swiss sides were all against FC Zurich. In addition to having beat Manchester United this year, they also defeated Real Madrid back in 1986, so this is a club with a history of putting impressive notches in their belt and we do not want to be added to that list.

Villarreal

Our form from before the break did not carry over, and it remains to be seen if Danjuma, Gerard, and Yeremi is a viable front three even if they are our three best attackers. I’m confounded by the way we remain slow in buildup despite the fact that we are so obviously better in fast counter attacks. Several times against Osasuna I felt like we could have pushed the tempo much more in transition to create more threat. We are at the point in the season where our floundering start is going to start to really extract a painful toll if we do not get things together immediately. As things currently stand we would be out of Europe before Christmas and spending the second half of the season chasing just to get into some kind of European competition next season.

Win is the operative word. There is no other option.

Prediction

I’m kind of tired of predicting us to win only for us to do something stupid, so I’m calling a 1-1 draw. Hope I’m wrong.