To be honest, this was a dreadful Villarreal performance; hard to pick out one player who did much of anything positive today.
The tone was set in the 5th minute when an incisive through ball from Malaga's midfield found Roque Santa Cruz, he outfought Mateo Musacchio for position and possession, and struck the ball past Asenjo. Villarreal's key players--Musacchio, Bruno, Cani--all had terrible days, and the result was Malaga was able to press the Yellow Submarine high and win possession in midfield.
Jaume Costa and Mario had bad days too. Costa kept getting caught upfield, and Malaga attacked at will down his side, with Artunes and Amrabat creating numerous chances. Mario was just unable to clear his lines, time after time--when he won the ball, he would hit it aimlessly back toward the center of the pitch, and Malaga won it every time.
As for our "attack", Cani completed exactly TWO passes in the first half (out of 15), Manu Trigueros wasn't any better, and we struggled to get the ball to midfield, much less anywhere close to the Malaga penalty area.
Early in the second half Malaga effectively ended the game with another fine run down our right by Amrabat; he beat the diving attempt by Pantic to cover for the missing Costa, squared the ball for Duda to finsih past Asenjo, who had no chance.
Amrabat did his best to throw us a lifeline by getting sent off in the 74th minute--he burst into the box, Jaume Costa's slide tackle got the ball first, then his ankle, and the Moroccan figured it was a foul. First he said something, then pointed at the ref and indicated the ref should put his glasses on! That wasn't funny, I guess--I thought it was.
Even 11 v 10, Villarreal struggled to do anything. There was one chance with about five minutes left, when a Gio cross was glanced wide of the goal by Oliver. But Malaga could have made it 3-0 following a failed clearance from our defense, but Angileri's shot was wide of the mark.
THE GOOD: Nothing really. Unless you count Gio playing the second half, though he did little. Men of the match? Malaga's Artunes, Amrabat, Angileri, Samuel....etc. Actually, Malaga played good, positive football--nothing like the team we saw in the first half of the season.
THE BAD: Pretty much everybody. This was the kind of game that if I were the coach, I'd just tell everyone stay in your game clothes, don't bother showering, get on the bus. We had no intensity, even being a man up it was just kick the ball around and watch Malaga get to it before we would.
But let's give Marcelino some blame, too. The starting lineup didn't impress, and we didn't seem confident as soon as the match kicked off. And could we please see Jokic again at LB, please? And Gabriel at CB?
THE UGLY: The large man in the #12 Malaga jersey who beats the drum in the Rosaleda. Talk about a beer gut.....that is one scary dude.
With this loss, Valencia are only seven points behind us with four to play. Los Che has a home match against Atletico Madrid this weekend which they realistically must win to have any chance to catch us for Europe, regardless of how we fare in our last four--otherwise they have to win in the Bernabeu, which doesn't seem likely.
As for the Yellow Submarine, a home match awaits--against Barcelona. We will have to score to get anything out of that one, and we haven't been doing much of that lately.