Gerard leads the way

The Villarreal international striker was once again key in the first leg of the quarter in Zagreb: he forced a penalty that he himself transformed on 44 'and gives an advantage in the tie.


Gerard's stats this season, with 24 goals and eight assists, are impressive. His 2021, immaculate: 15 goals, 7 passes and guaranteed ownership in the National Team. But it is his leadership, the fear he instills in his rival and the confidence that he infects in his team that really makes him great. Villarreal was planted in Zagreb with the competitive gene in these qualifiers patented by Emery and Bacca, tyrants of the Europa League, but also with a certain historical necessity. And it was Gerard who, at the worst moment, with the most brazen and undefeated Dinamo in his stadium, invented a play in a corner of the area that turned into a penalty that he himself transformed. It was just before the break, when it is most enjoyed and most stings. The stars appear when they are most needed. And he never misses the date.

After Bayern-PSG in the Champions League, which seemed like another sport, any comparison is odious, so at this point it is still better not to try to cajole. The Submarine changed his obsession of always by the brilliance and in his strategy he threw more of trade. Foyth and Capoue gave a patina of professionalism that raised the solidity one more point. Parejo and Trigueros pecked wonderfully between the lines and, in the absence of overflow and hit, with Chukwueze more timid than usual, exploited the climbs to the left of Pedraza. The winger, a tireless roadrunner, had two good chances (6 'and 20'). Dinamo, for their part, tried to repeat some of the good habits they showed against Tottenham. He circulated fast and well in the first half, connected compulsively with Orsic and Majer, but lacked a fang in the final meters. Not even Rulli's doubts about set pieces helped him.

With the 0-1, Dinamo lost confidence and impudence and dedicated themselves to chasing a supportive and well-armed Villarreal. Emery ordered containment in the exits and seriousness, and his plan was to put freshness only in those sectors where fatigue accumulated. Alcácer entered the break and left great details, the better the fewer touches he gives. He was able to score second in the 65th minute with a masterful assist from Gerard. The team finally did not get disordered as it sometimes happens with the current carousel of changes, which although it is optional, is sometimes taken as mandatory, and was having more and more prominence with the ball. And that, with the quality and depth that he has on the bench, helped him to have sentencing options. Moi, who entered through Chukwueze, was incisive. The advantage could not be extended despite the insistence of Trigueros. But the loot is neither small nor anecdotal. Villarreal, in addition to having one foot in the semifinals, has learned to compete. And that is great news in your spring dream of going down in history with titles and not just with merits.

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