As I wrote in the gamethread, enough of the nervionenses already. Villarreal found a new way to achieve an old result: lose to Sevilla in the 2014-15 campaign.
This time, a blazing first half on a rainy March afternoon in Vila-real failed to produce an opener. Then Unai Emery's men took their first clear-cut chance, the Sevilla manager made an immediate defensive change, and danger-man Vitolo secured the three points with an unmarked leisurely volley. A poker of victories for Unai (over his former arch-rivals) over Marcelino García Toral (against his former employer). And perhaps the end of Villarreal's big aspirations in the current campaign.
Three takeaways from a disappointing afternoon for Allen and the other soggy patrons at El Madrigal:
1. Unai Emery has our number. But we knew that coming into the match. We've discussed Unai's preparation with Valencia on the site ad nauseam but were not sure if he had the personnel and spirit in this Sevilla side to play the same way. Well, those questions have been resoundingly answered in the affirmative.
Vicente Iborra as a mediapunta is one strange experiment, but the ex-Levante man is great at knockdowns. And it's worth noting that captain Coke burst forward to score the decisive opener - one of the nine defensive-minded players in Unai's XI. Allen's favorite ex-Las Palmas player Vitolo banged home the insurance marker, and fate conspired to seal the rest. Unai's smirk won yet again.
2. Goals cost money. Bruno Soriano's long-term injury has denied Villarreal of its captain's leadership and on-the-field services. And a slew of defensive niggles has forced more rotations than advisable. But the Yellow Submarine's problem right now is in front of goal - just eight goals in seven March fixtures, with half coming against Celta.
Denis Cheryshev is injured, so the 4G connection with Luciano Vietto has fallen off the boil. The Argentine striker may be tiring in his first season in Europe, not to mention the mental toll of swirling transfer rumors. Ikechukwu Uche has scored just twice in 2015 in all competitions. Giovani dos Santos is improving, but he's not at a level right now to carry an otherwise struggling outfit. And Gerard Moreno is doing his best, but in sporadic minutes with varying strike partners, only so much can be expected. We need goals.
3. Beware the ides of March. As the month began, Villarreal was about to assault the Santiago Bernabéu with its ‘B' team ahead of a Copa del Rey semifinal return leg at El Madrigal against Barcelona. And the Yellow Submarine had just been paired with Sevilla in the Europa League round of 16 - a tough draw, but Villarreal had been minutes away from taking all three points at the Sánchez Pizjuán in the league. Plus Atlético Madrid was leaking oil in the league, so a Champions League place was not out of the question. A month full of promise.
But the Yellow Submarine took just five points out of 21 in all competitions, all in La Liga. The draw in Madrid was impressive, as was the comprehensive home win over Celta in the league, but that's it. Three losses to Sevilla, another to Barca, and a fortunate draw in Almería are the balance of the results. Now Villarreal is out of the cup, out of Europe, and hanging on to a European spot for next campaign. It could be a long ten matches left in the season...
As Marce said, the international break should serve us well. Time for Asenjo, Campbell, Eric, Gio, Jona, Moi, and Musacchio to enjoy the fruits of a spectacular six months. It's a shame that we've run out of gas in March.