The road woes continue for Villarreal. This time it's only one point in Alicante against relegation-threatened Hércules. Based on the first half, we deserved a lot more. Based on the second half, the draw was a fairer result.
Standings update: Still 6 points behind 2nd-placed Almería. Sigh. In the playoff spots, tied with Las Palmas (next week's opponent) and Recreativo. Only 1 point ahead of Sabadell and 2 points ahead of Ponferradina. Lots of competition in our part of the table.
Scoreboard watch: Two matches between direct rivals in jornada 27. Look out for Almería-Ponferradina, Alcorcón-Sporting, Girona-Córdoba (we can pass one or both, depending on results), and Lugo-Recreativo before our match on Sunday evening.
Five takeaways from the away draw against Hércules, working from back to front:
- Juan Carlos let us down on Noe Pamarot's equalizer early in the second half. But he made two ten-bell saves -- one late in each half -- to preserve our lead and the result, respectively. And you can't give him credit for Javier Portillo's penalty a la Panenka off the woodwork, but he has a deserved reputation as a shot-stopper. A good recovery.
- Mateo Musacchio is a growing worry at center back, namely his decision making. A somewhat daft penalty that he conceded managed not to hurt us, thanks to Portillo's miss. But I look forward to Olof Mellberg's return to provide some stability and leadership.
- Javier Farinós got the start alongside Bruno Soriano in the doble pivote, relegating Marcos Senna to the bench. Farinós was full value for his goal and the ovation from his former supporters. Senna was a bit wayward with his passing in the final minutes, so it's nice to have another option (more on this to follow).
- Rubén Cani was again a force in the midfield, but perhaps too discreet in the attacking third. His hustle was unquestionable, though, disrupting countless blanquiazul passes. And what of Manu Trigueros? He has now been left out of back-to-back matches.
- Jonathan Pereira and Jérémy Perbet may have succumbed to the Spanish striker influenza. Jony spurned a couple of golden opportunities, and Perbet never looked comfortable on the pitch. A reminder that the French striker is adapting to a new country and league. Ikechukwu Uche, assuming he is fit after a few (too many) days of partying, should be back in the XI against Las Palmas.
What of Javier Aquino's nondescript debut? Does Diego Mariño return after Juan Carlos' blunder? And can this attack take Villarreal back to the Primera?