Villarreal fell 1-0 to Athletic Bilbao today in the consolation match in the Carranza Trophy. Not exactly the way they were expected to make their way through the tournament. I only caught the match from the 53rd minute on, as I thought it was an hour later. While I was watching, though, no injuries, no red cards!
Perhaps we can only take the good from these two embarrassing losses and forget about all the bad. The bad being the lack of offensive production, the lack of discipline, the gaping holes in the defense and the tendancy to get caught upfield against the counterattack. The good being, the team might get their heads out of their arses and realize this season is not going to be a cakewalk! ;)
There were good periods during each match, however, with sustained possession and a few chances on goal. But the offense is severely lacking all around. Not once yesterday did we sustain an attack on goal, and today, while there was good movement in the box, we did not have a finisher on the field. Guille came close a couple of times, and Altidore had one decent shot in the 90+, but it was blocked.
Jozy played at least the second half. During the first 25 minutes of the second half, he was not involved at all. You really could not even tell he was on the pitch, were it not for the announcers occasionally mentioning Altidoré (yeah, he seemed to have picked up an accent over that last e!). He did come on stronger in the final 15, getting a few chances on goal. The first was a very weak header, lofted into the hands of the keeper from about 6 yards - not all his fault, as the ball was high. The second was a reaction shot, as Ibagaza's shot bounced off the crossbar around the 87th minute, which Jozy knocked about 12 yards into the air, also landing softly in the keepr's hands on the goalline. The third shot he had was his real chance, after good movement into the box by Mati set him up about six yards out. But a defender shot across the goal, blocking his shot straight up into the air. All in all, his performance was nothing remarkable. But it was good to see him overcome a period of inactivity and get more involved.
So, up next is a home match against Escudero and Valladolid on August 19th, before the final friendly against Udinese on the 22nd. Hopefully there will be a new approach from the players come Tuesday.
UPDATE: Altidore played the entire match. And Edmilson did get in, so the tonsillitis must be better. It is interesting that Pellegrini shied away from the 4-2-3-1 this tournament, and went with the preferred 4-4-2. Although it did not produce offensive results, I think it is his best lineup in general. Here is the lineup and substitutions:
Villarreal: Diego Lopez; Bruno, Gonzalo, Fuentes, Javi Venta; Fernandez, Josico (Senna, m.66), Edmilson (Ibagaza, m.72), Cazorla; Altidore and Llorente (Guille Franco, m.72).
And for those of you interested, Sevilla won the tournament with a 0-3 victory over Cadiz.