Villarreal's unbeaten and unscored-on streaks in la Liga came to a surprising end today in El Madrigal, Las Palmas with a goal a half-hour in that proved to be all they needed to defeat the Submarine, 1-0.
This was--mince no words--a poor Villarreal performance. Roberto Soldado failed to convert a one-on-one that would have given the Yellows the lead, chipping his shot over Varas but wide of the post, and shortly after that Las Palmas took the lead from a set-piece. A short corner, a Jonathan Viera cross, and a David Garcia header over Victor Ruiz that gave Alphonse Areola no chance was all it took.
Villarreal's attack, such as it was, was extremely unbalanced, everything flowing through Denis Suarez while Samu Castillejo hardly touched the ball on the right wing. Las Palmas's 4-1-4-1 effectively shut off any attempt Adrian and Soldado could make to link up with Suarez, who kept getting forced into the middle where help awaited.
Las Palmas were content to defend in the second half; Villarreal must've had 75-80% of the possession but even so it took until the 89th minute for Javi Varas to be tested, as he stretched to palm away a goalbound cannon from Denis Suarez. The islanders defended with a five and sometimes six-man back line, and Villarreal could find no way through.
As Marcelino admitted, this was a fair result; Villarreal hardly made Las Palmas work that hard to defend their lead and even players like Bruno had an off-day, while throwing on Bakambu and Baptistao didn't produce anything other than more frustrating moments.
Was this a blip in the road? Or a regression toward the mean? Who knows, but if Villarreal play like this over the next few weeks, Sevilla will surely end up passing us in the race for the final Champions League spot.
On the plus side, 53 points from 28 matches is still tied for Villarreal's best ever at this point in the season, and even should Sevilla win at Getafe, they're still six points behind us. Now for Marcelino to figure out what went wrong and get the squad ready for two important matches this coming week. Endavant Villarreal!