Not many positives for Villarreal in jornada 23 of La Liga 2014-15. The Yellow Submarine again went two goals down against Rayo Vallecano, but this time the Madrid side took all three points. It was less than the hosts deserved given the Grade A chances spurned by Víctor Ruiz, Giovani dos Santos, and Luciano Vietto, but it was more than the visitors seemed to want on the evening.
A disappointing end to the record goal-scoring streak. But let's look at the few bright spots ahead of Thursday's Europa League round of 32 first leg against Austrian champions FC Salzburg.
- Sergio Marcos. A surprise inclusion in the starting XI, the former Atlético Madrid canterano impressed on the ball in the bandbox of Vallecas. With a typically uncertain performance from Tomás Pina, our young pivote spurred the limited creativity generated by the Yellow Submarine in the opening hour. No one will forget Bruno Soriano, but with Jonathan dos Santos also injured and Manu Trigueros being rested and generally out of sorts, Marcos could become an important first-team player.
- Víctor Ruiz. No question that he should have finished the chance alone in front of goal -- that would have changed the match. But with Gabriel Paulista sold, Eric Bailly green, and Mateo Musacchio re-integrating, Ruiz has become the de facto captain of the defense. He's a classic Villarreal signing -- reinvigorating a once-promising talent -- with plenty more to give at age 26. With Chechu Dorado a significant liability, Ruiz kept Rayo from an even uglier scoreline.
- Sergio Asenjo. After the knock to the head against Espanyol, our #1 has been locked in. He had no chance on the two goals, and he made five saves and claimed a number of crosses. Always gives his all in every match, and he's playing in all three competitions.
Back to Estadio El Madrigal for two matches next week. After Bruno's injury and two defeats this week, the club could use a lift. Let's hope for a happier recap on Thursday. Endavant!