Gonzalo Castellani: Cani's worst nightmare?
3 UP: Cristián Zapata, Ángel López, Alejandro Martinuccio.
3 DOWN: Diego López, Rubén Cani, Igor Tasevski.3 UP:
Zapata. Allen wasn't thrilled with the Colombian center back's performance against Granada, but then we went and conceded three(!) goals from set pieces. Time to recall our tallest defender for Sunday's visit of Athletic Bilbao and the imposing Fernando Llorente. The Argentine reign down the middle of the park (Gonzalo Rodríguez and Mateo Musacchio; Castellani; Martinuccio and Ruben) may be coming to an end.
Ángel. I wasn't sure we would notice the Canarian right back's absence. But Sunday's match was another example of Mario Gaspar's current limitations. Our attack was extremely skewed to Joan Oriol's wing, allowing Mallorca to close us down much more simply. Let's hope Ángel returns to José Molina's starting XI at El Madrigal.
Martinuccio. We showed very little going forward. That said, the diminutive Argentine striker was my pick of the bunch. His movement and technical ability is a perfect fit for the Villarreal system. I think his scoring account will be opened very soon...maybe on Sunday afternoon?
D. López. Flatly, he was awful against the islanders. A mistimed and unnecessary challenge nearly saw red. Then he did not come for a ball in his six-yard box, facilitating the opener. When he did try and punch a free kick, Mallorca turned his gift into the second goal. A bad day at the office. But his defense did him no favors. Back at it next weekend, campeón.
Cani. The ex-Zaragoza midfielder has been trending in this direction for weeks. But an assist on Marco Ruben's opener against Granada saved him last week. No such luck on the islands. Cani provided no width down the right, reinforcing the one-dimensional nature of our attack. Molina's early removal of him for Gonzalo Castellani, on a day when the whole side played poorly, may be a sign of things to come. Pick it up, man.
Tasevski. Molina's Bulgarian defensive assistant coach has a lot of work to do before Athletic comes to town. Spanish international Llorente, Gaizka Toquero, and the rest of Marcelo Bielsa's aerial towers will eat us alive if we defend set pieces in a comparable manner. I'd like a return to man-marking principles in dead-ball situations, leaving zonal marking for teams with relatively interchangeable defenders. Either way, Ruben should not be defending the opposition's most dangerous striker.