Not Good Enough, Submarine

Valerio Pennicino

Villarreal's hopes of automatic promotion hang by a thread after a disappointing 0-0 draw at Lugo.

Judging from the number of comments on the gamethread today, most of you found something better to do on this lovely Saturday morning than watch Villarreal take on Lugo. And any of you who did watch it surely feel as I do---those were two wasted hours we'll never get back.

Lugo had made some chances in their team in response to their recent thumping at Girona, and clearly were going to be content to let the Submarine do most of the running, happy to defend in numbers. Trouble was, Villarreal hardly made them work that hard to defend. Without speed on the flanks, our attack lacked width, and it also lacked any urgency. For some reason we hardly tried a through ball all day to get behind the Lugo defense--instead much of our possession was sideways, backwards, or simply wasteful.

Marcelino went for veterans today--Uche, Bruno, Senna, Cani were all in the starting lineup, Trigueros and Gerard were not (admittedly, Moi was) but unfortunately rather than showing veteran leadership, what I mostly saw were tired legs. Bruno was unimpressive, Cani even more so, and Uche hardly ever linked up with anyone, whether Perbet, Cani, or Moi.

Villarreal could have been behind when Diego Tonnetto neatly broke our offside trap and rounded Juan Carlos, but with the goal gaping he took one extra touch to control the ball rather than simply swinging a foot at it, and Mario Gaspar was able to snuff out the danger.

Against that, Villarreal could have taken a lead early in the match, but the keeper was able to keep out his volley from outside the box. In the second half, our best chance came in a sequence involving Uche and, ultimately, Joan Oriol of all people, whose shot was brilliantly parried away for a corner; then from the ensuing corner a header (from Musacchio, I think?) hit the underside of the crossbar and caromed away to safety with the keeper beaten.

I expected Uche and Cani to come off by the hour mark because both looked tired, lost, and out of sorts, but instead Perbet was withdrawn first, with Jony taking his place. Well, Perbet hadn't done anything either, but then he hardly had any service, and he at least did try to press Lugo on the other end. Uche didn't. Moi came off for Juanma, in what seemed a strange substitution at the time, and seemed even worse later.

Senna went off for Manu around the 70 minute mark, but until virtually the last minute of the match Jony was never able to use his speed to create anything, and even when he did no one was able to collect his pass and shoot. Manu had a dangerous free kick over the bar, but really we were out of ideas and time.

FT Lugo 0-0 Villarreal

Some takeaways:

(1) Mateo Musacchio picked up a yellow card late on, and will miss our next match against Elche. Not good.

(2) We need to get back to our vertical game--why does that only seem to happen when Aquino and Jony are in there?

(3) Uche and Cani need to ride the pine next week. Neither offered much and both looked tired.

(4) The back four was okay, though hardly tested. Oriol and Mario weren't able to contribute much with most of Lugo's team spread out in front of them--there was no space for them. I don't recall a single cross all day.

(5) Why no Jaume Costa? Curious.

(6) Juanma? Really? His only two contribution were two soft rollers to the keeper when he was in space down the right. One fluffed cross I can maybe understand, but two?

(7) We have six games left: four at home (Elche, Girona, Xerez, Almeria); two away (Alcorcon, Barca B). We need at least 16 points from those matches, and 18 would be better--especially given Alcorcon's "luck" late on in their match today. This loss basically removed any room for error. I want to say I see us doing it, but based on our performances the last three weeks, I can't.

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