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3 Up, 3 Down: Jornada 19

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A perfect image of Rubén Cani?
A perfect image of Rubén Cani?

Another new feature at Villarreal USA. A big hat tip for the idea to my friends at fellow SBNation blog Japers' Rink.

It's hard to see the forest from the trees after Sunday's debacle at the Vicente Calderón. But there are always a few positives in any performance. The negatives were harder to narrow down, unfortunately.

3 UP:

Gonzalo Castellani. Another solid performance from the young Argentine midfielder. He replaced Cani at the half and looked relatively assured on the ball, despite our limited possession. I agree with Allen that Castellani has passed a few players on the depth chart, including Jonathan de Guzmán.

Gonzalo Rodríguez. We conceded three goals to Atlético Madrid, including two to our nemesis Radamel Falcao García. But our Argentine center back looked better than he had in weeks. With Carlos Marchena out of favor, Mateo Musacchio on the mend, and Cristián Zapata in over his head, Gonzalo's form is vital.

Borja Valero. A frustrated playmaker is never a healthy presence. But Borja is so much more to this Villarreal side. He sat deep early to stem the tide, came back to retrieve the ball when we fell behind, and pushed forward late in search of a consolation goal. His effort is never in doubt.

3 DOWN:

Rubén Cani. I wrote about the mercurial ex-Zaragoza midfielder over a year ago (the comments about Juan Carlos Garrido are worth a read); little has changed. We saw Cani at his worst on Sunday: flopping around for non-existent fouls, getting muscled off the ball, and losing possession at will. Joselu Moreno's arrival on the pitch could not have come soon enough.

Ángel López. Returning from a long injury layoff is never easy, but all signs suggest that our right back is not at 100% physically. We thought his width was a key ingredient missing from our attack; it's still absent. Joan Oriol is getting forward a lot more down the left, and Ángel's lack of pace brings back memories of his injury replacement. Is it time for the return of Mario Gaspar?

The newcomers. Easy targets, admittedly, but we need a lot more from Santi Cazorla's replacements. Javier Camuñas was hurt, so he gets a pass for Sunday (what about the rest of the season?), while de Guzmán and Zapata started and made little positive impact. The Dutch midfielder barely touched the ball, and the Colombian center back played three Atleti players onside for Diego's tally. Poor.