Mohamed Salah has set his sights on further Champions League and domestic success with Liverpool.

Jurgen Klopp's side face Villarreal in the first leg of their semi-final encounter on Wednesday, just under three years on from their last triumph in the tournament. The Champions League is one of three trophies that Liverpool are still in the hunt for this season, having already won the EFL Cup.

Salah helped Liverpool to victory in an all-English affair against Tottenham on that occasion in 2019, and says he wants to recapture those highs with a second European crown.

"I want to have the feeling again that we had after winning the Champions League," he told the club's matchday programme ahead of the game.

"It was unbelievable and in my mind that's why I want to win it again with Liverpool. The feeling we had in the city when we went on the bus and toured was unbelievable. 

"The Premier League was kind of different because it was not done [due to COVID-19 restrictions], but I want to win the Champions League again and I want to win the Premier League again. 

"That is my target with the team right now."

Salah has enjoyed another prolific campaign at Anfield, and is the leading scorer in the Premier League this season with 22 goals to his name, five ahead of his nearest rival Son Heung-min of Tottenham.

But the forward feels he has more to give than what he has delivered, adding: "I saw my game improving, but the season before last I had 19 goals and 10 assists in the Premier League.

"In my first season it was also 10 assists, so I'm always trying to score goals and give assists. 

"That is always my game and this season I feel a lot of improvement with the ball, but I go back to what I said before. The most important thing is to help this team win trophies and I am trying to help to do that."

Manchester City and Liverpool will put their epic Premier League title race on hold for a few days, as they have the small matter of the Champions League semi-finals to think about.

City are hoping to go one better than last year after losing in the final to Chelsea. Standing in their way in the last four are Real Madrid, who eliminated the holders in the quarter-finals and boast a striker in Karim Benzema who has 12 goals in nine Champions League appearances this season.

Also facing LaLiga opposition are Liverpool, though Villarreal are unlikely to be a team they expected to meet at this stage of the competition.

Led by a knockout football specialist in Unai Emery, Villarreal cannot be taken lightly by the Reds, even with Emery's men historically struggling in games in England.

Ahead of the first legs, Stats Perform digs into some of the best Opta numbers around the two semi-final ties.

Manchester City v Real Madrid

Madrid might just be beginning to feel it is their year after progressing from remarkable knockout ties against Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea.

However, the omens are against them ahead of their first leg with City. Los Blancos haven't won on any of their previous three trips to face Manchester City in European competition (two draws, one defeat), with the most recent two coming in the knockout stages of the Champions League – a 0-0 draw in the 2015-16 semi-final first leg and a 2-1 loss in the 2019-20 last-16 second leg.

Pep Guardiola won't need any additional motivation as he looks to finally end his wait for a Champions League triumph with City, and the Barcelona legend can complete a historic hat-trick by overseeing an elimination of Madrid.

Indeed, Guardiola has eliminated Madrid from the knockout stages of the Champions League on two previous occasions, beating them 3-1 on aggregate in the 2010-11 semi-finals with Barcelona and 4-2 on aggregate in the 2019-20 last-16 with City. He is looking to become the first manager to eliminate Madrid from the competition on three occasions.

Madrid won away from home in the first leg at Chelsea in the quarter-finals, their only victory in their last six away games against English teams in the Champions League. No team has ever beaten two different English sides away from home in the knockout stages in a single Champions League campaign.

Champions League history between the two managers, however, is with Madrid's Carlo Ancelotti. He and Guardiola have faced each other six times, with the City boss claiming four wins to Ancelotti's two.

However, all four of Guardiola's wins came with City against Ancelotti's Everton, while the Italian saw his Madrid side beat Guardiola's Bayern Munich in both legs of the 2013-14 Champions League semi-finals, claiming a 5-0 aggregate triumph. Such a one-sided tie is unlikely this time around.

Liverpool v Villarreal

Villarreal are arguably the story of the 2021-22 Champions League, having sensationally knocked out Juventus and Bayern Munich to reach this stage.

However, games in England have historically been a problem for the Yellow Submarine. Since a 2-1 victory over Everton back in August 2005, Villarreal haven't managed to win any of their last eight away games in England in all competitions (three draws, five defeats), tasting defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford in the group stages earlier this season.

Despite Villarreal's well-organised defensive set-up, a high-scoring game could well be in the offing. During his managerial career, Villarreal boss Emery has faced Liverpool five times (once with Sevilla and four times with Arsenal), with those matches producing 26 goals (5.2 per game on average), and both teams netting in each.

Liverpool will be the clear favourites to do the majority of that goalscoring. Of the 12 sides to have reached the semi-finals of the European Cup/Champions League on at least five occasions, only Benfica (seven wins from eight) and Milan (10/12) have a higher ratio of progressing to the final than Liverpool (82%), who have managed to reach the final on nine of their previous 11 semi-final appearances.

Although Liverpool possess serious depth in attack with Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz playing significant roles, Mohamed Salah is still the obvious candidate to be their talisman.

Only in 2017-18 (10) has Salah scored more Champions League goals in a single campaign than the eight he has scored this season, moving his tally for the club onto 33. The Egyptian is just three behind both Didier Drogba (Chelsea) and Sergio Aguero (Man City) for the most goals netted in the competition for an English side (both 36).

Yet Emery's track record in Europe should have Liverpool fans nervous that he could be the man to dash their quadruple dreams.

The only European meeting between Emery and Liverpool was the 2016 Europa League final, in which Emery's Sevilla side beat Klopp's Reds 3-1. On top of that, since the start of the 2009-10 season, the year of the inaugural UEFA Europa League campaign, Emery has progressed from 84 per cent of his Europa League/Champions League knockout ties (31/37).

That is second-best ratio of any manager to have taken charge of at least 10 ties, after only Zinedine Zidane (14/16 – 88%).

Virgil van Dijk insists Liverpool will not listen to suggestions they are favourites against Villarreal when the two sides meet in the Champions League semi-finals.

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool defeated Benfica while Villarreal rallied past Bayern Munich to reach the final four and set up just the third meeting between the two teams in European competition.

The Reds will boast home advantage in the first leg on Wednesday, Villarreal having not managed victory in any of their past eight away games in England in all competitions since August 2005.

That last triumph on English soil was over fellow Merseysiders Everton, who Liverpool defeated 2-0 on Sunday to keep their Premier League title and quadruple hopes alive.

While Klopp's team have impressed on all fronts this season, winning the EFL Cup and reaching the FA Cup final as well, Van Dijk warned that Unai Emery's side will pose a threat.

"No, these are press debates that we prefer not to listen to," he told Spanish outlet EFE when asked if Liverpool were favourites. 

"We don't listen if they tell us that we're favourites or not. We will play on Wednesday as we try to play every game, that is, going out to try to win and, if we can, reach the final. 

"Villarreal are a great team, with great fans and a great coach. We really want these two games to start now.

"It will be very difficult because Villarreal is a very difficult team. Obviously, I have seen the games against Bayern Munich and they are a fantastic team defensively.

"The players work hard, have a lot of experience and, above all, play like a collective. In this round only the best remain. There is no easy rival in a semi-final.

"We are aware of the difficulty of these games and these rivals. The return there in Spain is going to be very hard and we expect it to be very intense."

Gerard Moreno has registered four assists in the Champions League this term, with only three players managing more. Indeed, since 2003-04, this is the joint-most by a Spanish player in their debut campaign in the competition, along with Gabi (2013-14) and Isaac Cuenca (2011-12).

Meanwhile, only Karim Benzema (15) has created more secondary chances – the pass played before the ball that sets up a shot or goal – than Dani Parejo (14), highlighting his influence in building Villarreal's attacks, and Van Dijk pinpointed the dangerous pair.

"[Their] central defenders are incredible. Raul Albiol and Pau Torres. They are very experienced and fantastic," the Netherlands international added. 

"Then in the centre of the pitch they have the calm and the touch of Parejo and up top Gerard Moreno [if he is fit] is very fast and can surprise you. 

"We already know a lot about [Arnaut] Danjuma from his time at Bournemouth. It's going to be a very complicated match-up, but this is the Champions League semi-final. We knew it wasn't going to be easy."

Along with the talent on the pitch, Klopp will also face off against Emery, who has progressed from 84 per cent of his Europa League and Champions League knockout ties (31/37) since the start of the 2009-10 season.

Only former Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane (14/16 – 88 per cent) boasts a better win rate in that period among managers to take charge of at least 10 games, and Klopp will be looking to make amends after Emery’s Sevilla beat Klopp’s Liverpool 3-1 in the 2016 Europa League final.

New investment at Milan could see the Italian powerhouse target the best players across Europe's top clubs.

Milan have entered into exclusive talks with Bahrain-based asset manager Investcorp over a takeover.

The Rossoneri have been linked with Real Madrid's Marco Asensio and Isco and Liverpool's Divock Origi already.

TOP STORY – STERLING ON MILAN WISH LIST

Milan are monitoring Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

The England international is among a list of players that Milan would like to sign amid a reported lucrative takeover by a Bahrain-based organisation.

Sterling's current contract with City expires in 2023, but the Daily Mail claims he would turn down the Italian move.

 

ROUND-UP

 Christian Eriksen is gaining interest from former employers Tottenham after a good run of form, although his agent is set to meet with Brentford at the end of this season to formalise his future, claims Fabrizio Romano.

– Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel and goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga will hold talks at the end of this season to discuss his future having struggled for opportunities, reports Football.London.

– Jose Mourinho's Roma will open talks with Nemanja Matic's representatives as the Serbian midfielder prepares to leave Manchester United, reports Nicolo Schira.

– Manchester Evening News claims Manchester United have revived their interest in Villarreal defender Pau Torres.

Julian Nagelsmann revealed he regularly receives death threats in the aftermath of Bayern Munich matches and his mother is also targeted.

Bayern were eliminated from the Champions League in midweek after a 1-1 draw at home to Villarreal resulted in a 2-1 aggregate quarter-final defeat.

It means Die Roten can only win one major trophy in Nagelsmann's first season as head coach, though a nine-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga with five games to go means that trophy looks reasonably secure.

Nagelsmann said receiving threats is not out of the ordinary as he opened up on the abuse when previewing Bayern's weekend fixture with Arminia Bielefeld.

"I get them after every game, regardless of whether we win or lose. I only ever see the first line and then delete them all at once," he said.

"They even shoot at my own mother, who doesn't play football at all. That's a little wild.

"There are more death threats when we play a back three. How do I deal with it? I don't give a f***. I cannot understand. As soon as you turn off the TV, people forget their decency. But that's all useless. They think they're right, that's the bizarre thing.

"I don't think the club is increasing security. You also move as a private person. I don't want to provoke anyone now."

Club legend and former CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge spoke about how uncertainty over the contracts of several big-name players may have proved a distracting factor in Bayern's European demise.

Nagelsmann says it is easier to accept criticism from such quarters.

"I am aware that you have to put up with criticism from all sides. That's normal, part of it. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge's criticism is manageable for me. I can handle that," he added.

"Maybe not quite as good with the 450 death threats on Instagram. But I don't read them all, of course that's a bit irrelevant.

"Of course, if you are eliminated in two out of three competitions, a coach will also be criticised. But I can take it and keep working."

Nagelsmann also stated he had held constructive talks with Bayern's hierarchy following the Villarreal setback.

"We sat together for two hours on Wednesday and talked about the game. I picked out the most important things again, but again our game was good. We lost it in the first leg," he said.

"I had a long phone call with [chief executive] Oliver Kahn yesterday, also about the squad and my ideas. He wants to have a picture of what the coach is thinking. The exchange has been very good so far. 

"We are very good at planning, but implementation is not that easy. The squad planning changes every day, you imagine something. Two days later it looks very different. That's where the fast pace of business comes into play."

Along with Brenden Aaronson and Luka Sucic, Karim Adeyemi is part of a young core enjoying a breakout season at Salzburg.

In his third season in the Austrian Bundesliga, the 20-year-old has come up with 16 goals and three assists in 24 league appearances, and earned his first international cap for Germany last September.

Reports also suggest that a return to Germany at domestic level is imminent.

 

TOP STORY – DORTMUND CLOSE IN ON ADEYEMI

Borussia Dortmund and Salzburg have reached a basic agreement over the transfer of Karim Adeyemi, according to reports from Sky Sport Germany.

After several rounds of talks, this week has finally seen a breakthrough between the two clubs, with €35million the reported fee the two clubs have agreed on.

However, Dortmund are still to arrive at a point that satisfies Adeyemi and his representatives on personal terms.

According to the report, all three parties are looking to finalise the deal, but RB Leipzig, Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain also remain interested.

ROUND-UP

Harry Kane is set to turn down a move to Manchester United, with Erik ten Hag reportedly due to take over at Old Trafford instead of Kane's former boss Mauricio Pochettino, the Mirror reports.

– United have been given a boost in their pursuit of Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger however, as talks with Barcelona have reportedly stalled, according to the Sun.

Newcastle United have targeted Sevilla's Diego Carlos as a viable alternative if Sven Botman opts to join Milan, per the Chronicle.

– Football Insider reports Villarreal are seeking to permanently sign Giovani Lo Celso from Tottenham, having had the 26-year-old on loan since January.

– Meanwhile, Football Insider also reports that Manchester City have made Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni their top priority to replace Fernandinho.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp labelled Villarreal counterpart Unai Emery "king of the cup competitions" after the Reds set up a Champions League semi-final tie with the Spanish side.

Klopp's team played out a thrilling 3-3 draw at home to Benfica to seal a 6-4 aggregate victory in their quarter-final tie on Wednesday, reaching the competition's final four for a joint-record 12th time amongst English clubs (level with Manchester United).

They will meet Villarreal in next round after Emery's men sealed an incredible 2-1 aggregate victory over Bayern Munich one day earlier, setting up their first Champions League semi-final appearance since the 2005-06 season after Samuel Chukwueze's late equaliser in Bavaria.

Speaking to DAZN in Germany after watching his much-changed side progress at Anfield, Klopp was wary of the threat posed by Villarreal in the next round, calling Emery the "king" of the cups and noting they deserved their spot in the last four after eliminating two top-class opponents.

"I think Villarreal definitely deserved to go through both rounds," he said. "Whoever kicks out Bayern and Juventus [a 4-1 aggregate win in the last-16] deserves to be in the semi-finals. 

"I know that Unai Emery is a bit of the king of cup competitions. It's incredible what he pulls off.

"They'll have a clear plan. And by the time we meet, we'll have one too."

Emery has earned a reputation as a cup specialist throughout his career, winning four Europa League titles with Sevilla (three) and Villarreal (one), as well as lifting seven trophies during his time with Paris Saint-Germain.

The former Arsenal boss will compete in the Champions League semi-finals for the first time later this month, advancing to this stage in his seventh season in the competition. 

Klopp, meanwhile, has reached the final four for the fourth time in his career, three of which have come with the Reds (the other with Borussia Dortmund). Only Sir Alex Ferguson has reached this stage more times (seven) as the manager of an English club.

Meanwhile, Liverpool's two meetings with Villarreal will take place either side of a Premier League trip to Newcastle on April 30, and Klopp made clear his frustration at having to face an early kick-off on Tyneside between the two legs. 

"I've just spoken to BT Sport [who will televise the Newcastle game] and pointed out to them again that this is a c**p kick-off time," Klopp added.

"We want to play all the games that are coming up, no problem at all. But it doesn't have to be that they let us play 12:30 on Saturdays and then see how it goes, for no reason. I will never understand that."

The 54-year-old did, however, acknowledge that Liverpool's congested fixture list was the result of an exceptional season to date, and was something to be embraced.

"It's the best end-of-season run you can have," he added. "Because we only play so many times because we get so far in the different competitions."

Liverpool remain in the hunt for a historic quadruple after overcoming Benfica, and face Premier League title rivals Manchester City for a place in the FA Cup final on Saturday.

Jurgen Klopp took responsibility for a chaotic Liverpool defensive performance as they beat Benfica but insisted he could not be anything other than delighted with progress to a Champions League semi-final.

With an FA Cup last-four showdown against Manchester City on the horizon, the German made seven changes to a team looking to defending a 3-1 aggregate lead in Europe's premier cup competition.

A topsy-turvy game ensued, with the hosts coming through as 6-4 victors on aggregate following a thrilling 3-3 draw.

Klopp later blamed his changes for on occasionally ragged showing at the back, saying: "I made seven changes, the last line never played together like this, I decided that yesterday. 

"So we had 15-20 minutes to try and put it right. The majority of times they did really well, I liked the way we played football, the only problem was when we lost the ball our protection was obviously not perfect. 

"If you defend in a Champions League quarter-final it's about details. I didn't see the offside situations back, but it's part of defending to put the opponent offside. 

"Tonight that didn't work out too well we have to admit, but that is my fault because I changed seven times. 

"Benfica was still on fire and I respect that a lot. They scored really good goals, but it should not be as easy as it was tonight."

Klopp was more keen to focus on the positives overall, however, including a third Champions League semi-final appearance in five seasons.  

He added: "It is great, absolutely great. We never take something like this for granted. I am really, really happy. 

"I know we will talk about the game and the things that happened, the goals we conceded, but the day I am not over the moon about getting to a Champions League semi-final then something is really wrong and maybe it would be the right time to quit."

Next up for the Reds in this competition is a meeting with surprise package Villarreal, who stunned Bayern Munich to secure progress to the last four on Tuesday.

On the prospect of facing the Spaniards, Klopp said: "Tough, tough, tough. Both games they deserved to get through. 

"I didn’t analyse them because you watch the game and you try to figure out both teams. But [they have] real quality and Villarreal has probably the most successful cup competition manager in world football, so he knows what he is doing. 

"The team is really strong, two different approaches away and home, it's clear that they defended in Munich even more than they did in Villarreal. 

"It will be difficult, but it is semi-final of the Champions League, if it wouldn't be difficult then something would be really wrong."

Villarreal head coach Unai Emery hit back at criticism from Bayern Munich chief executive Oliver Kahn about the way the Spanish side played after they knocked the Bundesliga leaders out of the Champions League quarter-finals.

Taking a 1-0 advantage into the second leg on Tuesday at the Allianz Arena, the Yellow Submarine defended resolutely and scored a late goal to secure a 1-1 draw on the night, going through to the semi-finals 2-1 on aggregate. 

Robert Lewandowski had levelled the tie early in the second half via Thomas Muller's assist, but Samuel Chukwueze put Villarreal through with his goal in the 88th minute.

Speaking after Bayern's elimination, Kahn said: "There are few less pleasant teams to play against [than Villarreal]."

In response at a news conference following the game, Emery said: "Well, we do need to respect opinions, but they are totally unfair. The match is played in two games: 90 minutes [in Villarreal], where we were better than them, where we got a difference in the scoreboard, and today we played a match in which we haven't lost.

"The talk is that they wanted to be more aggressive in the pressure, and in fact, Lewandowski committed two aggressive tackles and the referee didn't send him off, which I understand because he shouldn't, and then they claimed a second card for Juan Foyth. But it was a clean game, well played."

The former Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal manager also addressed accusations of time-wasting against his team.

"Logically, we played for time, but also in Villarreal we played like this," he added. "Like with the goalkeeper, if they do not want to come and pressure, we gain our time. It is not that we do not want to play, we want them to come and pressure us. Today they did it, that is why it cost us more. [In the first leg], they didn't [pressure us].

"So what I want to say is that each team has tactics, but respect, I will never lose it. If someone disrespects [me], it is not that I will respect him, but I will omit him.

"[Kahn] said that they had bad luck and that we surprised them... well, one needs to be a man."

Villarreal captain Dani Parejo also did not hold back when speaking about Bayern head coach Julian Nagelsmann.

"When the draw took place and Villarreal was their opponent, I believe that their coach... well, I do not know him, but I think he showed a little bit of disrespect, not to Villarreal, but to football," Parejo told Movistar+.

"And our club in this case, when he said that he wanted to decide the tie in the first leg. I trust that this was a lack of respect to us.

"In the end, when you spit in the wind, sometimes it returns straight to you."

Robert Lewandowski will stay at Bayern Munich next season, chief executive Oliver Kahn insists, despite speculation linking him with a move to Barcelona.

The Poland international has hit 32 goals in 29 Bundesliga games for Bayern this season, scoring 47 times for his club in all competitions.

Lewandowski's latest goal came in Bayern's 1-1 draw with Villarreal on Tuesday, making him just the third player to reach 30 goals in the knockout stages of the Champions League after Cristiano Ronaldo (67) and Lionel Messi (49).

Recent speculation has linked Lewandowski with a move to LaLiga, given his Bayern contract is set to expire in just over a year's time.

But Kahn, speaking ahead of the Villarreal game, said Lewandowski would be remaining in Munich and the club would be "crazy" to consider letting him go.

"Apparently there is a competition out there to see who brings out the biggest nonsense story about Robert Lewandowski," Kahn told Amazon Prime Video.

"It is very important to mention that we have a contract that is valid for another season. If there's something to report, then we'll do it, too.

"We are not crazy and discussing a change from a player who scores between 30 and 40 goals every season."

Kahn then insisted the striker would "definitely" remain at the club for another season.

Those words would bring some comfort to Bayern fans who then watched their team bow out of the Champions League following a 1-1 draw with Villarreal, having lost 1-0 in the first leg in Spain.

Bayern have failed to win back-to-back Champions League games for the first time since their 2018-19 last-16 tie with Liverpool, when they drew 0-0 away and lost 3-1 at home.

Meanwhile, no team have suffered more Champions League quarter-final eliminations than the Bavarian giants (eight), and they have fallen in the last eight in consecutive seasons after losing to Paris Saint-Germain last term.

However, Kahn refused to criticise Julian Nagelsmann's team for their efforts and said the club were "not going to cry".

"It's always disappointing when you concede a goal just before the end," he said after the match. "We could have made it 2-0 before that. 

"You can't blame the team. They put everything into it, tried everything in the second half. 

"There are few less pleasant teams to play against [than Villarreal]. To crack this kind of defence, you need a lot of patience, you have to keep running. If there's one critique, it's that we didn't take advantage of one or two scoring opportunities and should have created one or two more chances. 

"It just wasn't meant to be. The team threw everything in. We didn't lose the battle today [but in the first leg], more commitment and will is hardly possible.

"We're not going to cry, we're going to go for it again next year in the Champions League. 

"We have a great opportunity to become league champions for the 10th time in a row. No one has ever done that in Europe. We have a nine-point lead over Borussia Dortmund. That's what we'll focus on and throw everything into that."

Julian Nagelsmann knows this season cannot be considered a success for Bayern Munich after falling short of their "minimum goal" of making the Champions League semi-finals.

Bayern are on course for a 10th consecutive Bundesliga title, nine points clear of nearest challengers Borussia Dortmund with five games to play.

But as last season, Bayern have failed to win the DFB-Pokal and been eliminated from the Champions League at the quarter-final stage.

After being edged out by big-spending Paris Saint-Germain in 2020-21, underdogs Villarreal put paid to their European hopes this time, claiming a 1-1 draw in Germany on Tuesday to claim a 2-1 aggregate success.

Samuel Chukwueze's late equaliser saw Bayern eliminated in the last eight for the eighth time in the Champions League era – more than any other side.

It was the first time Bayern had failed to win consecutive matches at any stage of the competition since facing Liverpool in the last 16 in 2018-19.

On the back of that disappointment, Nagelsmann was unwilling to be complacent about the Bundesliga title race as he considered the season as a whole.

"It depends on what happens in the Bundesliga," said the first-year Bayern coach.

"If we win that, we've matched what we did last year, which is not enough for Bayern Munich. The semi-finals should have been our minimum goal, but we've not done it."

While Nagelsmann insisted the damage had been done in Spain, he ranked this result among the three most disappointing of his coaching career.

"To be honest, this is one of the worst three defeats of my career," he said. "Hoffenheim v Liverpool was tough. RB Leipzig v PSG was difficult to take. We had plenty of chances, this is certainly one of the three toughest occasions.

"As to how we lift the team, everything works as normal. I'll do my job as usual. [On Wednesday] we'll start preparing for our next Bundesliga game and I'll get the team ready for it.

"A team like Bayern has experience with good and bad results. You win together and lose together, and you have to prepare for the next matches together.

"It's not easy, we will feel bad about [Tuesday], but I will do my best to lift the team."

Nagelsmann will be relieved he will at least not have to face Villarreal again this season, having grown frustrated by the approach of the LaLiga side, who had just four attempts but scored with their only shot on target.

Crucially, they limited Bayern to four shots on target from their 23 efforts, making seven blocks, and won 11 fouls to slow the pace of the game.

"It's difficult when the opposition have eight defenders in the penalty box, so it's never that easy to find your rhythm," Nagelsmann said.

"We have to score from winning the ball back, as we did. In other situations, it's super difficult.

"That's a part of how football is in southern Europe. I don't want to open up any discussion I'll have to apologise for next week, but everyone has to see their style for themselves.

"We had a couple of strong tackles where players could reasonably stay down, but not every situation needs to end with a player staying down for three minutes. I'm not going to make excuses about that, though."

Villarreal coach Unai Emery told his side to savour their achievement, after they progressed past Bayern Munich to the Champions League semi-finals with a 1-1 draw on Tuesday.

Coming into the second leg in Munich up 1-0 on aggregate, the Yellow Submarine continued to absorb pressure.

Robert Lewandowski levelled the tie at 1-1, seven minutes into the second half via Thomas Muller's assist, but Samuel Chukwueze put Villarreal through with his goal in the 88th minute.

According to Emery, savouring that achievement must not come as a result of Villarreal's status in comparison to European football's elite, but because of the work it took to get there.

"Let's enjoy the semi-finals, knowing we are here not because of how nice we are, or to let others say we are a nice and small town, but because we've worked for it," Emery told Marca post-match.

"We are professionals, but we also have feelings and today we have played a huge game and for this, a lot had to do with all the good we did in the first leg.

"It was essential to play a perfect game defensively, because against opponents of this level it is the only way to progress. We knew that we were going to have five moments throughout the match and we took advantage of one, thanks to the fact we have approached the tie with humility."

The Europa League holders approached Bayern in the same manner that saw them through Juventus in the last-16, keeping shape and playing in transition, while trying to restrict Bayern to low quality opportunities.

It worked again in the second leg, with Bayern particularly managing a cumulative xG of 1.06 despite 15 shots in the second half, compared to Villarreal's 0.64 from only two attempts.

It mattered little to Raul Albiol, who had to mark Lewandowski, saying extra time might have been a bridge too far.

"It's been a long 90 minutes and we didn't want extra time because it would have been too much suffering against an opponent with strikers of a very high level, who have forced us to be very focused, although they have scored a goal off a half-chance," Albiol told Movistar+ post-match.

"It is a success for a town, a club, a board, a team and all of Spanish football. It has been very nice and it has shown, as we did last year in the Europa League, that we compete very well. Work and passion are fundamental."

Thomas Muller says Bayern Munich's elimination from the Champions League at the hands of Villarreal is "difficult to accept".

The Bundesliga leaders crashed out in the quarter-finals for the second season running, as Samuel Chukwueze's late strike at the Allianz Arena snatched a 1-1 draw on the night - and a 2-1 aggregate victory for the Europa League holders.

Julian Nagelsmann's side, beaten 1-0 in the first leg, dominated the game as they sought a ninth win from 11 Champions League quarter-final ties.

But despite Robert Lewandowski drawing them level early in the second half, Bayern were unable to capitalise on their superiority as they could only find the back of the net once from 23 attempts at goal.

And the Bavarian giants were stunned two minutes from time, when Chukwueze rounded off a devastating counter-attack to send Villarreal through to a first semi-final in this competition in 16 years.

Muller knows Bayern only have themselves to blame for lacking a cutting edge.

"If you take just this game into account, without the first game, we should have gone through convincingly," he told Amazon Prime.

"It's difficult to accept this; I don't know what to say.

"It's bitter to concede after that performance. With the fans behind us, we pushed, pushed, pushed from the start. We have to do more in front of goal."

Head coach Nagelsmann said the nature of Bayern's exit left a sour taste in the mouth.

The head coach added: "The first leg was the key. Today, we did very well. It was one of our best games. But we should have made it 2-0 in the second half.

"It's all very bitter. We had very little space, there was always a danger of getting hit on the counter, and creating many chances against such a deep defence is hard. 

"If you don't win and get eliminated, that's just the way it is."

Villarreal will do battle with Liverpool or Benfica for a place in the final.

Samuel Chukwueze struck a dramatic decisive late goal as Villarreal secured a 2-1 aggregate victory that sent Bayern Munich crashing out of the Champions League.

The Nigeria international climbed off the bench to make it 1-1 on the night two minutes from time in the second leg at the Allianz Arena to send the Yellow Submarine through to their first semi-final since the 2005-06 season.

Robert Lewandowski had levelled the tie early in the second half with his 13th Champions League goal of the campaign.

But there was a dramatic twist, as Chukwueze ensured Unai Emery would not be prevented from progressing beyond the last eight of this competition for the first time in his managerial career.

The Champions League quarter-final second legs are here, and the competition's two most recent winners must overcome first-leg deficits to reach the final four on Tuesday.

Defending champions Chelsea were downed by a stunning Karim Benzema hat-trick at home to Real Madrid, who are bidding to be crowned European champions for a 14th time.

Bayern Munich, meanwhile, suffered a shock reverse at Unai Emery's Villarreal, who will surely require a remarkable defensive performance to keep the free-scoring Bundesliga leaders at bay in Bavaria.

Here, Stats Perform unpacks the pick of the data from Tuesday's crucial European ties. 

Real Madrid v Chelsea: Benzema brilliance puts hosts in driving seat

Benzema's Stamford Bridge hat-trick has put Los Blancos on the brink of a semi-final spot, and he will be looking to continue his incredible European campaign when Chelsea try to overcome a 3-1 deficit in Spain.

After hitting consecutive European trebles, Benzema's tally of 11 goals is a new record for the most strikes by a French player in a single edition of the competition, and matches his record across the last two editions combined (he scored six goals in 2020-21 and five in 2019-20).

The 34-year-old's understanding with Vinicius Junior caused Chelsea all sorts of problems in London, and the duo have now assisted each other a combined five times in the Champions League this term (Vinicius providing four assists, Benzema one), the most of any two team-mates in the competition.

Carlo Ancelotti will qualify for the semi-finals for a record eighth time if Madrid can maintain their advantage against his former employers, equalling Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho.

Chelsea, meanwhile, are making their first trip to the Santiago Bernabeu in European competition, and must become the first English side to win a Champions League game there by more than one goal to have any chance of progressing.

Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy's costly mistake at Stamford Bridge has left the Blues on the brink of an exit, with his dire pass to Benzema representing his first error leading directly to a goal in 20 appearances in the competition.

Chelsea may be encouraged by the fact they have not lost both legs of a Champions League tie since going down to Bayern Munich in 2019-20's last 16, and have won three and drawn two of their last six meetings with Los Blancos.

However, with Madrid progressing from nine of their previous 10 ties after winning an away first leg (the exception being a 5-3 aggregate loss to Ajax in 2019), Chelsea look unlikely to revive their title defence.

 

Bayern Munich v Villarreal: Emery eyes landmark success against Bavarian giants

Elsewhere, Bayern Munich are looking to avoid consecutive last-eight eliminations when they host Villarreal, with Arnaut Danjuma giving Unai Emery's men a precious 1-0 first-leg lead.

Danjuma has six Champions League goals this term, with only Robert Lewandowski (12), Benzema (11), and Mohamed Salah (eight) managing more, and could prove the visitors' best outlet on the counter-attack.

Indeed, Villarreal will certainly require a resolute defensive performance in Munich, having conceded 22 shots in their surprising home triumph.

However, Julian Nagelsmann's side were uncharacteristically wasteful in Spain, and their four shots on target last Wednesday marked the lowest such tally managed by a team to attempt over 20 shots in the competition this season.

 

Bayern unquestionably have what it takes to turn the contest around, however, and haven't gone consecutive Champions League games without scoring since a 5-0 aggregate loss to Real Madrid in 2013-14's semi-final tie.

Lewandowski will carry the burden of rescuing the Bavarian giants, having already scored two European hat-tricks in Munich this season (against Benfica and RB Salzburg). Only Cristiano Ronaldo (for Real Madrid in 2015-16) has ever managed three trebles in one Champions League campaign.

If the Yellow Submarine can pull off a remarkable success at the Allianz Arena, Emery will progress beyond the competition's quarter-finals for the first time in his career.

But the omens do not make for great reading for the Spaniard. The only previous time a side of his won an opening leg in the competition's knockout stages (Paris Saint-Germain's 4-0 win over Barcelona in 2017), they became the first team to be eliminated after winning a first leg by four goals, falling to an incredible 6-1 away loss. 

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