Champions League Preview: Bayern ready for European glory as Villarreal stand in their way

The quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League are all geared up for the first leg as six-time European champions Bayern Munich travel to Spanish outfit and defending Europa League champions Villarreal. 

A tie predicted to be a straightforward passage for Bayern, could end up being handy as the 'Yellow Submarine'  has the element of surprise in them as they beat Juventus in the Round of 16. 

The unpredictable nature of the competition makes the tie an interesting contest going into the business end of the season.

Villarreal vs Bayern Munich: Head to Head Meetings

Bayern and Villarreal have met only twice, in the group stage of the 2011-12 Champions League season, where Bayern won both the group games. 

A brace from Franck Ribery and a solo goal from Mario Gomez saw Bayern win 3-1 at the Allianz Arena while the return leg saw Toni Kroos and Rafinha score in a 2-0 win. 

The loss remains the only occasion Villarreal have lost a home game against German opposition.

Bayern's record in Spain

In its entire history, Bayern have played 65 matches against Spanish oppositions, winning 31 and losing 19 with the rest 15 ending as draws. 

On Spanish soil they have played 31 matches, winning just eight. Bayern famously lost the 1999 Champions League final to Manchester United 1-2, despite leading in the stoppage time of that game in Camp Nou in Spain.

Villarreal's giant-killing form

In the last 12 months, Unai Emery has masterminded his team to success against some of the big names of world football which includes Arsenal and Manchester United in the Europa League semi-final and final respectively. 

Manchester United did have their revenge in the Champions League this season, but Villarreal outclassed Atalanta and Juventus going into the quarter-final. They were considered underdogs for the tie against Juventus.

Player comparison | Robert Lewandowski vs Gerrard Moreno

Year after year and season after season, Robert Lewandowski is only getting better like a glass of red wine as he has continued his trade in the Champions League this season. 

In eight Champions League encounters this season, Lewandowski has amassed 12 goals while also leading his national side to the 2022 FIFA World Cup last week after beating Sweden. 

The 33-year-old has scalped 31 goals in the Bundesliga and is the second-highest scorer in the history of the competition with 308 goals.

Gerrard Moreno is another bright prospect who has taken the world to the storm; he has eight goals in 15 La Liga games along with two assists. 

The Spaniard's exploits as a No.10 has seen him rise for Spain as well but has missed the majority of the season with an injury. Moreno also has two goals and three assists in the Champions League.

Villarreal vs Bayern Munich: Journey so far

Bayern Munich are one of the three clubs in this season's Champions League to have won all their group stage encounters, scalping all 18 points available. 

They beat the likes of Barcelona, Benfica and Dynamo Kyiv in the group stage before ripping apart RB Salzburg of Austria 8-2 on aggregate. They won the second leg of that match by a scoreline of 7-1.

Villarreal had a rough group to negotiate after they qualified for the competition by virtue of winning the Europa League last year. 

They lost to Manchester United both home and away, but more importantly, picked up 10 points against Atalanta and Young Boys to progress to the knock-outs.

Although the first leg of the Round of 16 tie against Juventus ended goallessly, the second leg was a big surprise as Villarreal won by 3-0, a shock result considering the level of opposition as Gerard Moreno, Pau Torres and Arnaut Groeneveld scored to humiliate the Old Lady.

The tie remains a tasty recipe as both teams have enough in the tank, but with a close title race in Bundesliga, Julian Nagelsmann could make changes that might affect the outcome of the game. However, on paper Bayern remain the favourite.

Prediction: Villarreal 1-2 Bayern Munich

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