- Joan Capdevila. Rock solid in back, but that's not why he is here. Seriously, two goals and an assist from a fullback in two matches? I'm impressed. His second goal against Getafe, completing the comeback down a man, changed the tenor of Villarreal's season. And his celebration, taking off his jersey to reveal a plain white undershirt, is on the level of Joseba Llorente dorky. That's why we love this team.
- Santi Cazorla. He was gone 6 weeks? What a wonderful return to action. Not the greatest match against Atletico, but you still felt his presence. And did I mention what a golazo that was against Getafe? On the pitch for just a few minutes, receives the ball at the edge of the box with all to do, then controls and hits a dropping volley into the top corner. Goal of the week stuff.
- Ernesto Valverde. On balance, our manager did a great job with his substitutions. He waits too long to make changes for my liking, but he gets the benefit of the doubt because (1) it's working and (2) he's still learning the players' tendencies. I'll be more critical of him later in the season, though. For now, talk about results: bringing Cazorla on against Getafe, who scored the 2:2 goal and generally wreaked havoc. Then taking off Cazorla against Atletico for Escudero, who makes an impact every time he's on the pitch. Finally, the (obvious) masterstroke: Llorente in for Rossi after the Italian wore down the already poor Atletico defense. A cross from Escudero to Llorente later, we took 3 points from the Calderon.
- Angel Lopez. Good thing Javi Venta was available against Atletico. What an absolutely foolish second yellow card to earn a suspension and make the last free kick against Getafe nervy. Beyond that, his right wing was an open freeway. Angel seems to do better in European matches, when the games tend to be more open, but he has been a liability in La Liga (see Cristiano Ronaldo's 0:1 goal earlier this year). I'm not comparing Angel to Capdevila, but if Angel wants to get forward that much, his crosses need to be better.
- Referee Ramirez Dominguez. Pretty awful job in the Getafe match, ending with Villarreal down to 9 men. Beyond the two expulsions, he gave a penalty against and did not give one or two clear ones in our favor (Nilmar's comes to mind). And yet we've still never lost at home with him officiating. But now that I think of it, we had a penalty shout or two against Deportivo earlier this season that he turned down...
- Diego Godin. Godin and Ivan Marcano were my top losers after the first half against Getafe, but both redeemed themselves a bit. My belief in Marcano is growing every week: though he makes errors like on the 0:1 goal against Getafe, when he set up Pedro Leon on a silver platter, his tackling ability is unmatched. Godin did contribute offensively, beautifully setting up Capdevila for the game-winning tap-in against Getafe, but his defensive play is in question. On Atletico's only goal, Godin took himself completely out of position, leaving Javi Venta as the closest "center back" (Marcano was in the area, but not alert to Simao's run). Despite the victories, there are still some issues in back, and Godin is the main culprit without Gonzalo to kick around (thankfully).
- Joseba Llorente. Match-winners have to be recognized. He scored the 1:2 goal against Atletico in his usual way: by sticking his nose in places that others won't. He says he planned to go to the back post, but then changed his mind at the last minute. It's a good thing for us.