In his first season with Villarreal, Unai Emery delivered the club’s first Europa League title. In his second, he has engineered an even bigger continental result — and arguably his masterpiece to date.
On Tuesday, Villarreal knocked European giants Bayern Munich out of the Champions League with a 1-1 away draw at Allianz Arena, advancing to their second-ever semifinals 2-1 on aggregate.
Since joining the Yellow Submarine on a three-year deal, Emery has made the most of a club that have been massively outspent by Europe’s heavyweights and are an afterthought in La Liga.
- Villarreal brought in $134.9M in revenue during the 2020-21 season, not even cracking the world’s top 30; Bayern earned $633.7M — good for third.
- In 2021-22, they rank 34th in the world in transfer fees ($170M); Bayern rank 11th ($418.6M).
- They finished seventh in La Liga last year, only qualifying for UCL with their Europa title.
- Villarreal have never won La Liga and are once again sitting seventh in the table; if they don’t improve their position, they’ll have to win the Champions League to qualify for next season’s edition.
Emery made his name by winning an unprecedented three consecutive Europa titles as Sevilla’s manager from 2013 to 2016, but this is the furthest he’s ever advanced in the Champions League.
If Villarreal want to extend their dream run, they’ll have to do so against either Benfica or Liverpool in the semifinals.