Something of a disappointment. On an evening when Valencia were held to a 2-2 draw by Espanyol, Villarreal essentially conceded 3rd place to the Unibats with a dour 0-0 stalemate with the bottom team in La Liga. We can nonetheless celebrate qualifying for the Champions League playoff round, but frankly everyone looked too tired to celebrate a lot. it's been a long season.
. If Villarreal is going to take its place among the best, it needs to become a more consistent force. It was hard to believe that the team that played on Sunday against Mallorca and tonight against Almeria was the same one that passionately defeated Porto a week ago.
Almeria, let's be honest, was dreadful. Piatti is a fine player but Ullóa certainly looked as though he played for Castellón a year ago. And much of the supporting cast seemed as though they might struggle to come to grip with Segunda football, much less the Primera.
However, VIllarreal didn't look a whole lot better. Nilmar could have put the Submarine ahead within five minutes, but shot wide. He had two more chances early on, fluffed them all. The best one came when Santi made one of his trademark incisive through passes, but Esteban saved the Brazilian's shot. Borja Valero produced another fine save from the keeper, but in general Villarreal's buildup was just too slow in midfield to trouble Almeria, who defended en masse. Nilmar and Rossi both looked tired and just not on top of their game today, and the Villarreal attack died time after time as a result.
HT Almeria 0-0 Villarreal
Could it get better? It didn't. Villarreal had Diego Lopez to thank for grabbing a point, actually, as he tipped a shot onto the post. Coach Garrido subbed Rossi and Senna (who played well in he first half, but then made a couple of awful blunders to hand Almeria good chances in the first five minutes of the second half) in the 58th minute, Cani and Ruben coming on.
Cani did offer a more direct approach, but again Nilmar's profligacy when close to goal was depressing. Ruben couldn't get on the end of a great cross. Musacchio headed wide. Mario put the ball in the seats (really hard to do in Almeria) when he had a chance at goal.
I don't remember what order these came in, as I was busy cooking for a party and only got sporadic looks, but Radio Vila-Real kept comparing the game to Mallorca, so I clearly wasn't missing much.
In the last 10 minutes Villarreal did its best to hand the game to Almeria with some comical back passes that led to corners for the home side, but once again Lopez saved the shot with the game on the line.
FT Almeria 0-0 Villarreal
Overall, I'd be more excited about making the Champions League if we didn't have to play a qualifying round first. We've basically handed 3rd place to Valencia with two goalless draws, and it is hard to understand what has happened to our attack, which has simply withered on the vine in La Liga of late. Borja, Bruno and Santi showed their quality, and Musacchio and Marchena bailed their colleague out on more than one occasion, but it wasn't an inspired performance to say the least.
Okay, enough carping. We didn't lose--the first time we've managed anything in Almeria. Nobody got hurt--which has been a problem for us there as well. And no one got sent off--we had only one yellow card, Almeria four, one of the lowest totals of the season. Senna got an hour in And of course (though we later found out it didn't matter, as Sevilla blew a lead against Osasuna) the point we achieved today got us over the line and gives a chance at the big money next year.
Now we have what must seem like a long rest after the last week or two--essentially four days before hosting Real Madrid at El Madrigal in the final home match of the 2010-2011 season. I know everyone is tired, but will want to put forth a good effort against Mourinho's men. But only bragging rights will be on the line.
No poll this time either, but MOTM had to be López with his two big saves in second half.
A reminder that Villarreal B has a HUGE match today (Thursday) at the Mini Estadi against Alcorcón. as they try to pick up some key points in the battle to avoid Segunda relegation. The club has made the match free to everyone. Hopefully they can pick up a badly needed win. We'll have a thread up for the game, so come join us! Endavant Villarreal!