Yes, it does go in the books as "Jornada 1". As opposed to last week, it was easy to come up with positives (though hard to narrow the list down to three), negatives were less clear.
Borja Valero. The Spanish commentators were rhapsodizing about him the entire game, and rightly so. He found space to roam, made key interceptions, key passes, and scored a beautiful golazo. An immense performance. Sr. Llaneza says he isn't leaving unless there's an "oferton' (basically, a team willing to meet his buyout clause), which is good news, but performances like this show (a) he's a guy we can rebuild the team around while (b) other clubs are going to want him in the summer.
Marco Ruben. He managed to use his size more effectively than usual. Of course, his ball control and moves for his goal were great, but he was more involved all game than he has been in a long time.
Joselu. Did he score? No. Did he have a great game? No. But he had a solid debut and looked like a player who was committed to the cause, and more than that, understood his role. In the first ten minutes he had two nice diagonal runs that nearly resulted in chances, and in the second half he linked up pretty well with Ruben and the midfielders.
Honorable mentions: The defense. Some nervy moments prevent me from putting them in my top three, but they dealt pretty comfortably with what was thrown at them. And Joan Oriol and Angel got forward with authority to support the attack, too.
And I would have included Bruno Soriano, of course, because he had another fine game. But Bruno does that all the time, so I can't really say he's "on the up" as much as I could with some of the others. That's my rationale, and I'm sticking to it.
Zapata: Dropped from the team by Molina. I won't say his replacement Musacchio was always great (on another day he could've conceded a penalty) but at least he marked his man well throughout and cleared balls away from the area effectively, things Zapata has struggled to do of late.
Nilmar: Sure, Molina and he talked and decided he needed to sit out with the negotiations going on, but it's pretty clear when the going gets tough Nilmar isn't the fighter you need up front. If the team had struggled without him, I'm sure fans would be questioning the sale, but as it is I don't hear anyone disappointed he's moving on.
Hernán Pérez: The "Paraguayan Dynamo" has surprisingly seen little action under Molina. He was substituted at halftime of the Atleti match, even though to the VUSA staff he looked like one of the few bright spots out there, and Molina brought on Camuñas for Cani , though Perez's speed made him a good choice. Let's hope he doesn't become yet another speedy South American winger we give up on too soon.
(Dis)honorable mention: Rubén Cani. Better than against Atleti (wouldn't be hard to do) but he was far from effective, especially in the first half. His decision-making wasn't very good and his passing touch was off. With Molina returning our style of play more to the 'classic Villarreal' possession game, at least at home, Cani's runs into dead-end positions and his flopping for fouls are especially noticeable. He can play very well--he did against Valencia--but he hasn't the last two matches, and he needs to step up.
Thoughts? Comments? Leave 'em below!