Villarreal began its preseason today with a match against its filial, Villarreal B, and Javi Calleja’s men came out the better of it, 2-1. This really was nothing more than a glorified scrimmage: the match was played at one of the training grounds in the Sports City, and three of the B team assistants served as “referees”.
Villarreal’s ‘first team’ didn’t include injured players (Bruno Soriano, Denis Cheryshev), players just arriving from international duty (Rodri, Semedo, Jonathan dos Santos), or Manu Trigueros and Roberto Soldado, who have both had some muscle tweaks in training. The first-team players who did appear were Barbosa, Rukavina, Álvaro, Pau Francisco, Jaume Costa; Chuca, Imanol, Castillejo, Leo Suárez; Mario, Bakambu (first half) and Andrés Fernández, Mario, Bonera, V. Ruiz, A. Marín; Ramiro, Raba, Soriano, Chuca; Unal and Sansone in the second.
Villarreal B had Diego, Migue, Ramón, Castaño, Nani; Pedro, Lozano, Cedrés, Cantalapiedra; Simón, Dalmau (first half) and Ander, Miguelón, Roger, Genís, Franquesa; Fran, Joan, Leandro, Akale; Franco Acosta, Dani Villa in the second.
There was no TV and no radio, so I am going strictly on newspaper accounts a nd a couple of twitter commenters, but the first half belonged to the first team. Leo Suarez scored early, Cedric Bakambu getting the assist, and the Congolese international had plenty of chances to score but was repeatedly denied by keeper Diego, who was the man of the half if not the match. I dead hear that Aitor Cantalpiedra suffered an injury but don’t know what or how serious. In this half the B team had only one real chance, a free kick.
The second half was noteworthy for the debut of Ünal, but he and Sansone didn’t produce anything of note—whether this was a failure on their part to work together or lack of service from a midfield that had Roberto Soriano as the only regular, I don’t know.
Franco Acosta equalized in the 70th minute and three minutes later Genis gave the B team the lead, which they kept for a 2-1 final score. I did hear USA youth international Mukwelle Akale impressed, so too Fran in midfield.
Probably B-team coach Javi Calleja got some positives from this, as his charges showed some spirited play. I doubt Fran Escribá will be too concerned, given he only fielded between 3 to 5 starters (depending on how you count) in either half.
Our first real friendly match, then, will be next Saturday at Nastic Tarragona. I remember when we played a friendly there before a Catalan regional network broadcast the match on TV—maybe that will happen this time. As far as I know, Ike Uche is still with them, so it will be lovely to see him again. Endavant Villarreal—and Villarreal B!!