Two matches, six points. The backups did the job in Cádiz, despite a late home push after a red card and concussion. And the regulars throttled La Real, despite the 0-0 scoreline with only 25 minutes remaining.
Three takeaways from jornada 14 of La Liga (and Villarreal’s debut in the Copa del Rey):
The cup is a great opportunity if you take advantage. Cádiz is a clear promotion aspirant, so you could view them as a lower-end Segunda side. Not as big of a gap in quality as it may seem on paper, but Villarreal ‘B’ showed no mercy from the start.
José Naranjo debuted up front alongside Gerard Moreno and set up the opener – no surprise to see Gerard on the score sheet at any level. Then last year’s debutant Nahuel Leiva got on the board for Marcelino García Toral, and the rout looked on.
But the youngsters turned down the intensity a shade, Cádiz converted a slow-motion corner kick, Adrián Marín committed early to a poor challenge, and Israel Puerto took the brunt of an aerial challenge. Villarreal was then down to nine men for the final 15 minutes, and after a dominant start, our Yellow Submarine hung on for the victory. The tie is not over, but Cádiz would have to score at least twice at El Madrigal. Almost there.
La Real brings out our best. David Moyes must dread Villarreal (with Everton in the Champions League playoff, and even his former club Manchester United’s inability to score in four Champions League matches), and Marcelino owns the txuri-urdin (seven wins in seven Primera encounters). Without leading lights Musacchio, Cani, and Gio, and the usual new coach effect in full swing for the visitors, Villarreal did not expect an easy match. But again the Yellow Submarine rose to the occasion in front of an enthralled El Madrigal.
Some global statistics: close to 60% possession, no scoring opportunities against Sergio Asenjo’s goal, and two goalposts hit by the rampant Luciano Vietto. Eight corners to two, five saves forced to two, and most importantly, four goals to nil. Bruno Soriano, Denis Cheryshev, and Moi Gómez on two occasions provided the goals, with Vietto, Ikechukwu Uche, and Jonathan dos Santos also all heavily involved in the attack. A splendid performance.
Marcelino is starting to build a squad. Javier Espinosa may not be a part of it, but the 2014-15 edition of the Yellow Submarine has a number of variations. With varying success, we’ve seen a right back in the midfield (Antonio Rukavina), a midfielder in central defense (Tomás Pina), and a midfielder up front on a number of occasions (Cheryshev).
In addition, all four strikers have played important roles, and the four pivotes have taken turns bossing the midfield. And Jona may be settling in as an interior after a fine performance at both ends of the pitch on Sunday. Promising, particularly without Cani.
Big game on Thursday: away to Apollon Limassol on the final matchday of the Europa League group stage. Then a chance to show off away to Atlético Madrid in the league. We deserved more on our visit to the Calderón last season, and wouldn’t it be nice to spoil their year-long unbeaten run at home in La Liga? A boy can dream.