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Villarreal 2-3 Celta: Submarine runs aground again

We cannot win two matches in the league in a row to save ourselves.

FC Barcelona v Villarreal CF - La Liga Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Villarreal, yet again, failed to post a victory in a match where getting one would have enabled the team to ‘turn the corner’ in some small way. Instead, Celta went 3-0 up, could have had a fourth, and even with the late heroics of Carlos Bacca, the Submarine went down to a 3-2 loss.

The goals are here.

Villarreal’s back four was completely blown away by Celta, particularly Brais Mendez and Okay Yokuslu. The first goal was, it must be said, an uncharacteristic error from Sergio Asenjo. But the two goals in the first six minutes of the second half featured defensive breakdowns—first failing to win one-on-one challenges, and then inability to close down the attack.

I don’t like calling particular players out for lack of effort, but Santi Cazorla and Pablo Fornals were our only two players to acquit themselves well over 90 minutes today. Too many were easily beaten in one-on-one challenges, pulled out of position, etc.

And the fears so many of us had—that this was a fundamentally unbalanced team, with a weak backline that would cost us dearly—are being realized. Our €40-50m in strikers aren’t getting enough touches of the ball (Samu Chukwueze, Carlos Bacca, Toko Ekambi and Gerard Moreno combined for 72 touches today; Iago Aspas and Maxi Gomez had 92 for Celta). Alfonso Pedraza has been tested and found wanting; Manu Trigueros has been far from his best; Alvaro Gonzalez and Victor Ruiz have struggled; Gerard Moreno has hit more posts than nets; I could go on and on.

Sure, beating a middling-to-poor Segunda team in the Copa was great, but right now, based on our play in the Primera, we look like a team destined for the bottom four or five this season, and the struggle is going to be to stay out of the bottom three.

I don’t have a lot of confidence in the Submarine right now, largely because the first time this season I’m sensing not just a lot of things that need to be fixed, but a lack of application and intensity. If this team is starting to quit on their coach, changes need to be made—and quickly. So far the front office has shown little inclination to make them.

In some ways maybe it’s good that we play again on Thursday (we host Spartak Moscow in a match we need to at least draw to advance in the Europa League). But honestly, our focus now has to be the league. That a match at lowly Huesca has become a key to our season shows us how dire the situation is.

Hopefully our next match will bring better performances and better results. Endavant Villarreal.