The moment has arrived. To meet the rivals for Villarreal CF during the 2021-22 UEFA Champions League season. The draw has been held in Istanbul, Turkey and has had the novelty of a team from Moldova (or near Moldova) playing the group stage of the maximum competition at continental level.
Before going into the drawing, let’s remember a bit of the rules. Each team is assigned a pot, with four pots in total, with Villarreal being placed in the pot number one due to being the title holders of the UEFA Europa League from last season. Each group will have a team from each pot with the luck of the draw barring the well-known rule of no team will face another team from their same association in the group stage. Another rule is that no Russian team will face an Ukrainian team and viceversa due to their political tensions.
A less well remembered rule they do is that before each drawing, they group teams from the same association based in their TV market, and divide their groups into two TV schedules. So for example, if Real Madrid was drawn into Group B, Barcelona must be drawn into groups E to H, as Groups A-D are a TV schedule and Groups E-H are another one. For Spain, the groupings has been Atlético Madrid and Sevilla, and Real Madrid and Barcelona the other.
Villarreal has been drawn into Group F. This will be our 4th group stage appearance and 5th appearance overall. As we all remember, our best result has been the semifinals from the debut, where a miss from Riquelme didn’t allow us to advance towards the final.
From pot 2, we will be facing Manchester United. The Red Devils are classic in European football. We have met him “three” times in Europe. In the group stage of the 2005-06 Champions League, we draw them without goals twice. Same result from the group stage in the 2008-09 season. But we will remember them more as the team we WON the Europa League final
Atalanta is the rival from the pot 3. This team is similar to Villarreal as they have a little history in Europe. This is their 3rd time in the Champions League. While, it seems an easy team, don’t sleep on them, their attack is electric, and as a follower of Serie A, I would say it’s one of the most fun teams to watch. The matches against them could be very fun.
Last rival, from pot 4 is Young Boys. The Swiss team has done what seemed impossible and ended the dictatorship of Basel in the league. While they have a long history of European football, they haven’t achieved much success.
This are the results, which I think are pretty good. I give us a good chance of advancing into the knockout phase. Very dependant on both Manchester United and Atalanta results, but I expect to not lose against the Red Devils and win both matches against the Italian side. Young Boys I think will finish last in the group
So, what do you think of this? What are your predictions for the group stage?