Glass half-empty: Villarreal escaped La Nueva Condomina on Sunday afternoon with a point against relegation-threatened, ten-man Real Murcia. A golden chance wasted to take control of the second automatic promotion spot. And yet another away draw against a struggling side.
Glass half-full: The Yellow Submarine, in front of a massive travelling support, stole an away result thanks to a 96th-minute equalizer from recently little-used substitute Manu Trigueros. Another surprising hero in the Marcelino García Toral era. Draw away and win at home could be enough down the stretch.
Choose your own adventure, I guess: glass half-empty or half-full?
Five takeaways from the 1-1 draw in Murcia:
1. No change in the starting XI -- no surprise coming off eleven goals in two matches. With left back Jaume Costa picking up his fifth yellow card of the season, let's hope Joan Oriol, Olof Mellberg, or both can return to fitness. Injury-prone Chechu Dorado on the left and Joan Truyols or Bruno Soriano in the middle is not a recipe for success.
2. Speaking of captain Bruno, he was flat-out awful. With Héctor Canteros accompanying him in the doble pivote, we needed Bruno to control the match's tempo, but #21 was out-of-sorts. Your best players have to perform in key moments, and that's where we are in the season. Might be time for Marcos Senna to return against Racing. Or a rehabilitated Javier Farinós?
3. Speaking of injuries, Javier Aquino was caught by one of the numerous no-holds-barred Murcia challenges and went down holding his ankle. The Mexican international tried to return, but Juanma Gómez replaced him within a few minutes. Aquino was a constant menace in his limited action, even if the final ball was lacking, so Vila-real will anxiously await news of tomorrow's medical tests. We lose him for the Confederations Cup at season's end, so time is short.
4. Aquino's injury set back the boys in yellow, and Murcia capitalized on one of its precious few chances. A thunderous Saúl shot from outside the box (sound familiar?) crashed against the bar, bounced down into the field of play, and pimentonero striker Kike was quickest to the rebound. Dorado and brave Juan Carlos just failed to clear the header off the line, and Murcia took an undeserved lead to the break.
5. Ex-amarillo Javier Matilla did his old side a favor by engaging in a tangana after the whistle and kneeing Mateo Musacchio, earning the former his marching orders. Down to ten men, the home side wasted time in every imaginable way and nearly nursed the advantage to victory. But a decent cross (for once) came from a wide player -- this time Costa down the left -- and Trigueros rose unmarked to power home a header from the penalty spot. A just result for Villarreal and the traveling horde.
On to Racing Santander next Sunday at El Madrigal. Girona and Alcorcón are one point ahead of the Yellow Submarine, Almería level on points, and Las Palmas three points behind.
Looking ahead, what changes to the XI? What of the strikers: no service or the return of the finishing plague? And Murcia's tactics: gamesmanship or over the line, even with ten men?