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Eibar loss brings criticism for Calleja

An interesting starting XI and one that didn’t produce much, sad to say

Villarreal v Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Fotopress/Getty Images

Eibar defeated Villarreal 1-0 yesterday, the only goal coming from a nicely-worked combination involving Fabian Orellana and Pedro Léon, as well as scorer Kike Garcia. That 16th-minute goal off the post (highlights here) stood up.

Admittedly Villarreal is struggling for goals after the departure of Cedric Bakambu, and the continuing injury to Bruno Soriano is a major problem (in a worrying development, he traveled with the team to the Basque Country to meet with the same doctor who has been working with Santi Cazorla—so maybe there is still more going on with Bruno than we know).

Nonetheless, Calleja’s team selection seemed an odd one. Eibar are a pressing team, especially at home, and playing Rodri and Javi Fuego together in the central midfield meant we had no incisive passer—like Trigueros or Fornals—to play balls forward for Cheryshev and Raba, our runners. Chery was particularly isolated, with very few touches on the day.

The sad truth is that right now, Villarreal’s defense is unlikely to spin a shutout, so we pretty much need to score two goals a game to have a chance at three points. Calleja can’t do much about the roster he’s got, and maybe if Nicola Sansone becomes available he’ll have another partner for Bacca, but the prospects for finishing the season outside the Europa Legaue places is worrying. If Baka had stayed, things would have been a lot different.

Another match coming up Saturday at home to Girona, who will play a 3-4-2-1 and try to clog up the passing lanes as much as they can. Early kickoff, too.