The Javi Calleja era began with Villarreal taking on Maccabi Tel Aviv. The encounter finished 0-0, but it was an entertaining match for the most part, the Submarine having a more chances and more of the possession but ultimately unable to turn that into a victory.
Both teams had reasonable penalty shouts, Maccabi’s Nick Blackman getting a yellow card for what was adjuged to be a dive in the fifteenth minute. Roberto Soriano was bundled over in the area on the hour mark with an egregious push in the back as he broke in on goal, but the referee didn’t blow the whistle.
The most interesting talking point was Calleja’s midfield in a diamond shape, with Soriano as the mediapunta (top of the diamond), Fornals and Trigueros as the wingers and Ramiro Guerra, making his first start for the first team, at the back of the diamond.
Samu Castillejo and Rodrigo Hernandez, who had been omnipresent, were rested, though Samu came in late and pushed a shot just wide and Rodri played the last 10 minutes or so. As Calleja said in his press conference afterward, it was encouraging but a win would have been nicer.
In the other match in our group today, Astana continued their unbeaten record at home, drawing with Slavia Prague 1-1. So, Slavia and Villarreal lead the group with four points and face each other at the Ceramica on October 19 in the next round; Astana and Maccabi are on 1 point each.