What do Borja Ekiza, Mauricio Lanzaro, Juan Forlín, Jeremy Toulalan, and Gorka Elustondo have in common? They have all been sent off against Villarreal in La Liga this season. Five red cards against in sixteen matches: pretty impressive. And from what I recall, all but Toulalan's were worthy calls.
Unfortunately, the similarities do not end there. In all five instances, Villarreal was unable to turn its man-up situation (in lacrosse; a power play in ice hockey) into three points. And these demonstrations have highlighted our biggest fears: too much passing around the box (the force field), not enough cut and thrust up front.
Jornada 6: Athletic Bilbao 1-1 Villarreal (Ekiza second yellow: 1-1 in 80')
Aftermath: Our final substitution saw Javier Camuñas replace Rubén Cani in 87'. Giuseppe Rossi (injured) and Borja Valero had come off before the dismissal. Mario Gaspar, Carlos Marchena, and Wakaso Mubarak were Juan Carlos Garrido's other options, so you can't fault him too much. And a point at San Mamés is not a bad result.
Jornada 7: Villarreal 2-2 Zaragoza (Lanzaro second yellow: 1-2 in 80')
Aftermath: This was arguably our worst result of the season to date. Garrido had already brought on Hernán Pérez (his La Liga debut!) and Gerard Bordas (who provoked the sending-off). Marcos Senna replaced José Manuel Catalá after the expulsion, and the two South American substitutes combined on the equalizer from a corner. Garrido's tactics produced results--Rossi was our only available striker (Joselu Moreno had not come up yet)--but an inspired Roberto in goal kept us at bay. +1 point.
Jornada 12: Espanyol 0-0 Villarreal (Forlín second yellow: 0-0 in 74')
Aftermath: This match was very frustrating. Garrido had two changes left and the option of the in-form Joselu on the bench. However, he stuck with Marco Ruben on an island up front and did not make a move until 90'+1. Aside from the runs of Pérez, by now a fixture in the starting XI, Espanyol created the better chances down a man. Three points on the table, and we didn't even reach for them.
Jornada 14: Málaga 2-1 Villarreal (Toulalan second yellow: 2-1 in 74')
Aftermath: You're starting to see a trend. Garrido waited until 85' to bring on a second striker: Joselu for Mario. Moisés Gómez replaced the disappointing Jonathan de Guzmán earlier, and the two substitutes created a half-chance late on. But that was the extent of our attacking threat.
Jornada 16: Villarreal 1-1 Real Sociedad (Elustondo second yellow: 0-1 in 61')
Aftermath: Our first extended man-up situation of the season. Garrido made all three of his changes in short succession after the expulsion, removing both interiores and an ineffective Nilmar. On came Camuñas, Joselu, and de Guzmán; the first two linked up for Ruben's equalizer. We pushed for a few more minutes, but a winner was never coming. +1 point.
By contrast, we have received one red card on the season.
Jornada 3: Villarreal 2-2 Sevilla (Diego López straight red: 0-0 in 21')