Welp, the most pivotal match of our season so far has been delayed 20 minutes due to snow in Italy. I actually think bad weather favors us. Unai Emery likes to play slow, Atalanta likes to play fast, so let the snow pile up in deep drifts and keep the ball from moving.
The thing I can’t decide is if this makes it harder to press or harder to play out from the back. Maybe both? A Gero Rulli slip up could be more deadly than usual.
Unai, as is his way, goes really conservative in the starting lineup in a match where he needs a draw:
The more I turn this over in my head, I still think the left side is weird but I do like this lineup. It’s defensively pretty sound, Gerard is the perfect guy to link our midfield to our attack, we have two good finishers starting the match, and plenty of firepower to bring off the bench if we need a goal late. Now, because he’s Unai Emery, that firepower late will almost certainly involve another inexplicable Dani Raba appearance, but we’ll complain about that more when it happens.
Here’s how our opponents will line up:
Copa match aside, this is the most confident I’ve been about a Villarreal match in a good long while. We’re the more talented side, the weather mitigates some of their advantages, and Unai Emery of all people only needs a draw. I think this all sets up for us rather well.