Villarreal 4, Valencia 1. Much-maligned Ikechukwu Uche on the scoresheet and running his socks off. Hernán Pérez displaying his preseason form with an arrowed header at the near post. Giovani dos Santos with a pinpoint assist and a brace of his own despite a missed penalty. The Yellow Submarine romping over its arch-rival. How sweet it is.
Three under-the-radar positives:
Midfield domination. Bruno Soriano was his usual imperial self, though he did get into trouble once or twice by dallying on the ball. But his Route 1 ball to spring Gio for the fourth goal was a thing of beauty. Arguably more impressive was Manu Trigueros, who has taken to the doble pivote and all it encompasses. Excellent shift on the evening for both canteranos, taking Valencia’s frustrations without a cynical kick in return.
No goalie controversy. Credit to Juan Carlos for accepting his second-choice status without becoming a distraction. But Sergio Asenjo has validated club management’s confidence in him and more. No chance on the goal, a commanding presence in his box (particularly in the air), and a wonderful save to deny Ricardo Costa at 3-1. Villarreal has an excellent pipeline of canterano goalkeepers, including the on-loan Diego Mariño, but we may just exercise that purchase clause on Asenjo.
Healthy competition in the squad. No place for Aleksandar Pantic in the rotation, but including the injured Bojan Jokic, this Villarreal side under Marcelino García Toral is eighteen players deep. And hopefully Javier Farinós can step into the Marcos Senna leadership role later this season. Few players assured of a place in the starting XI keeps training lively and builds morale more than any superstar presence. The right ingredients for a successful season.
But there were some warning signs even in a convincing win on the scoreboard. Valencia looked threatening going forward and troubled us a few times on set pieces. So there is learning to be done even in victory.
On to Getafe on Thursday evening at El Madrigal. Another chance to knock off a direct rival and continue our hot start to the season. Endavant Villarreal!