Was there any good news today? Yes, a Villarreal player DID score a goal. Trouble was it was Uche, on loan to Granada, who powered a header into the Villarreal net in the 56th minute and gave Granada their first goal, and first victory, in the Primera División in 35 years.
Not even a totally unmerited penalty award for a Nilmar dive in the 77th minute could rescue the Submarine. Giuseppe Rossi's penalty hit the post (his first penalty miss in two seasons) and Jonathan DeGuzman couldn't put the rebound on target with the entire goal at his mercy. it was that kind of day.
But it was also the kind of day Villarreal has had too much of, both last season and this, playing down to the level of inferior opposition. In the first half Villarreal were clearly the better side, but Borja Valero, Cani, and even Bruno were shades of their usual selves, and Rossi and Ruben were starved of service from a midfield bereft of ideas, other than silly backheels or clever plays when what was required was one-touch football with a touch of pace.
Villarreal's back four wasn't bad, but though Catalá and Mario tried to get forward they seldom put the opposition in trouble with any creative ideas, and Zapata and Musacchio had to come up big on several occasions when the ball was turned over. The yellow team didn't seem focused, and nowhere was that illustrated better when, after Zapata had to come off for treatment of a head wound, Villarreal gave away the resulting free kick and a Granada attack should have led to a goal but for some poor finishing.
HT Granada 0-0 Villarreal
It was to be another boneheaded play that led to Granada's goal. Villarreal had come out of the second-half blocks with a bit more application and had Granada on the back foot, but Cani tried a fancy play and gave the ball away to Siqueira, who found pretty much the entire Villarreal defense out of position. He was able to dribble down the wing and get a cross in (Zapata trying to get back to stop it) and Uche powered a header home from the center of the box. Musacchio and (I think) Catalá were at fault too, as both ran back to get into position near the goal but neither bothered to pick up Uche.
Garrido introduced DeGuzman and Nilmar for Cani and Ruben with 30 minutes left, and then Catalá (who was on a yellow), came off for Camuñas. Whether it was the spark from the substitutions or simply the awareness that everything had to be thrown forward I don't know, but Villarreal did begin to create some chances, though truth to tell none of them troubled Roberto in the Granada goal that much. Probably the best opportunity came when Nilmar latched onto a through ball but elected to cross the ball for Rossi rather than shoot from a presentable angle--he is clearly lacking in confidence at the moment. Well, we all are.
The referee did his best to give us a goal with his penalty call--sorry, but never in a million years was that anything other than a blatant dive. I suppose Rossi's miss was somehow appropriate, though I did not appreciate the Granada player nearest him giving him an earful before he took the penalty!
The Submarine had 7 corners (Granada none), 62% of the possession, but only 4 shots on goal, the best one coming just at the end when Camuñas released Rossi and his shot flew the left post. Granada picked up six yellow cards to our two, which was a fair reflection of their combativeness, lack of sophistication, and inferior skill. No excuse for losing to this team of journeymen, frankly, but that's what we did.
FT Granada 1-0 Villarreal
Frankly, no one can say they played well today. Borja and Cani were perhaps the most disappointing, but Bruno had as poor a game as I have seen him have in a long time. Even those players who did some good things had some bad moments.
Right now, Villarreal is a team bereft of confidence and ideas. I cannot believe this team is that much worse than a year ago--I loved Santi Cazorla and hated to see him go, but his departure should not have affected the team this much. And while I know Sr. Roig is going to be reluctant to jump to any quick conclusions here, questions are bound to be asked about the team's readiness to play, and their mindset.
Most of you won't need reminding that Valverde's squad went and lost to Xerez, and that set the tone for any number of appalling displays. Garrido took over that squad and brought out its potential; he'd better hurry up and do the same with this year's club, because Sr. Roig's patience is not infinite. Especially since our potential rivals for European places are flying high.
With Mallorca coming to town on Tuesday, and knowing how much they hate us, we'd better get focused fast. The team needs your support, now more than ever. Endavant Villarreal!