Villarreal hosted Recreativo Huelva on Sunday evening at El Madrigal. Two clubs with a long shared history of managers and players alike. Gerard Moreno spared the Yellow Submarine's blushes with an 88th-minute equalizer, but a home draw is not a good result. Or is it?
This match reminded me of the chorus from Optimistic by my favorite band Radiohead:
You can try the best you can
If you try the best you can
The best you can is good enough
Five takeaways from yet another 1-1 draw, this time with Recre:
- With Bruno Soriano (and Manu Trigueros) suspended, and Javier Aquino on international duty, Marcelino García Toral was forced to break up the continuity of the starting XI. In came a rested Marcos Senna and Jonathan Pereira on the wing, producing the three-striker formation I had asked for on the podcast. Still no Olof Mellberg, and perhaps the defense needs his solidity and leadership.
- The game started with a good flow, seeing half-chances at both ends. Recre was dangerous in the middle of the pitch through Chuli, who on a better day could have scored at least twice. Javier Farinós nearly gifted Chuli his fifteenth goal of the season, but the Decano's leading scorer hit the outside of the post after intercepting a horrific backpass. More on that to come. At the other end just seconds later, Ikechukwu Uche scored on a rebound but was clearly offside.
- The match was scoreless at the break, but that did not last long. Yet another Farinos miscue -- very uncharacteristic since he arrived in Vila-real -- ended up at the feet of Berrocal in a two-on-one situation. This time Recre made it count and took the lead two minutes into the second half. Cue the changes...
- Marcelino's substitutions in his first game back on the bench surely saved a point. Rubén Cani returned from injury to replace the out-of-sorts Farinós, and Juanma Gómez provided a spark in place of the increasingly ineffective Moi Gómez. Finally, with fifteen minutes left, Gerard (not Bordas!) returned to the 'A' team fold in place of Jérémy Perbet. The Frenchman was not at his finest, but even when he was a few weeks ago, Marcelino did not give him a consistent run of games. Go figure.
- After an over forty-minute assault on the Recre goal, Villarreal finally got its just deserts. A cross came in from the right, like so many others during the match, but this time there was a strong head to meet it. Welcome back, Gerard Moreno. Villarreal tried to continue pressing, but an Ikechukwu Uche effort straight at the keeper was all that an exhausted bunch in yellow could manage in the final minutes.
So 1-1 on the night, and the table continues to tighten at the top. On to Anduva to visit a struggling Mirandés side looking to avoid the drop. Villarreal's last visit was the beginning of the end of life in the Primera. Can this visit spark the return?
Glass half-full: a great fightback? Or glass half-empty: more trouble scoring? Which team worries you most for the second automatic promotion spot?