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As per usual, Unai Emery has experimented with a number of different formations so far in his time at the helm of Villarreal. The 4-1-4-1 formation has been the most commonly used by the manager, but he’s also shifted to more of a 4-3-3, 4-4-1-1 and even on occasion utilizing a 4-4-2. It is however under the 4-1-4-1, their first-choice formation, where they’ve had the most success and won the Europa League last season.
Unai Emery has always had a desire to play out from the back which would likely to continue at Newcastle. In build-up and attacking phases, Villarreal’s formation shifts more into a 2-1-4-3. For purposes of simplifying things, you could also call this a 3-4-3, with Vicente Iborra dropping in between or alongside the two centre-backs.
Villarreal’s defensive stability has been one of the keys to success under Unai Emery so far. Although this isn’t the best record in the world, it’s still very positive. Their defensive stability has come largely out of the 4-1-4-1 shape, in which they have engaged in a mid-block, shifting and sliding with the play rather than pressing vigorously from the front.
With all that said, by in large Emery's teams have defended excellently well regardless of formation.
In attacking transitions they have a very vertical approach and as already noted, the wingers often drift inside. Their verticality naturally increases their use of through-balls down the middle rather than working the ball out to the wide areas and delivering crosses.
Mastermind Analysis articale → https://themastermindsite.com/2020/11/14/unai-emery-villarreal-tactical-analysis/
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