For a second straight week, Villarreal did enough to take three points and remain in the rarefied air of La Liga. Yet again, some wayward finishing and the lack of a killer instinct produced a draw, this time 0-0 at Balaídos against Celta Vigo.
While last week's 2-2 barn burner against Real Madrid at El Madrigal can be chalked up to the opposition's lethal finishing, this result is the product of self-inflicted wounds. Jony Pereira earned and spurned a handful of golden opportunities, Javier Aquino failed to bury the game's best chance, and Celta goalkeeper Yoel shone to keep the Yellow Submarine at bay.
Five takeaways from Celta 0, Villarreal 0:
1. Too much stability...leads to apathy? No changes from the exemplary XI against Madrid -- Marcelino García Toral was understandably thrilled with that performance. But carryover fatigue and the internationals' travel the week prior appeared to weigh against Celta. Too little from last week's stars Rubén Cani, Javier Aquino, and Giovani dos Santos.
2. Other teams play football too. Credit to Luis Enrique's side; they played our game for most of the match. And it led to some end-to-end action, with Rafinha in particular causing problems. But Sergio Asenjo was rarely tested, making just one save in the entire match. Admittedly, it was a good stop on Toni's free kick, forcing our keeper to reach back and claw away a shot destined for the top corner.
3. Chances, chances. Jony is a menace with his pace, but his misses are trying on Submarino supporters. Another Mexican short corner (Gio and Aquino's training ground routine) found Jony unmarked at the back post midway through the first half, but his volley sprayed wide. On a similar clear-cut opportunity midway through the second half, our #23 pushed the ball wide of the far post.
But Jony kept working, and his ganas sprung Aquino for the chance of the game. With only a flailing Yoel to beat and the goal at his mercy, Aquino shot straight into the feet of the Celta keeper. Ten minutes remained, but the scoreline was not seriously threatened further.
4. Defensive solidity is back. Another clean sheet away from home, and this one featured even fewer prime scoring chances against. Not to say that Celta did not pose a threat, but it was generally far from goal. Last year's Segunda pichichi Charles (ex-Almería) was held in check; Mateo Musacchio and Chechu Dorado crowded him out, and Celta's style is not conducive to headed goals. And Mario Gaspar was fantastic in cutting out potentially incisive passes. With this Villarreal side's firepower, such defensive performances will earn three points more often than not.
5. Take the point in stride. Frustrating to control a match but not win, but Villarreal rode its luck against Almería. An away point against a decent opponent is nothing to scoff at, particularly if followed up with a home win over Espanyol on Thursday. And the periquitos will be on a short week - only 72 hours between matches after tomorrow's visit of Athletic Bilbao.
Back to Earth after last week's exuberance, but the letdown was not so severe. Onward and upward. Endavant Villarreal!