Villarreal and Olympique Marseille played a friendly in front of a good crowd at Avignon today. It was really two different 45-minute matches as far as Villarreal was concerned, so I’ll report it that way.
Match One/ First Half:
Villarreal squad was Asenjo; Miguelón, Víctor Ruiz, Álvaro González, Jaume Costa; Morlanes, Cáseres, Nahuel, Castillejo; Gerard Moreno and Ekambi.
Some very good sensations here, especially watching Gerard and Ekambi play together. They both switched sides of the pitch a lot, Ekambi generally played farther forward. Jaume Costa got forward a lot as usual; Miguelon on the right side did fine. Nahuel was not impressive, Samu C mixed it up some and was always willing to get forward down the right but skied a shot with only the keeper to beat. Santy Caceres had a couple of loose challenges but grew in confidence over the 45 minutes, while Manu Morlanes made the pass that led to the only goal of the game—er, half—Toko Ekambi finishing the move off with aplomb.
Match Two/Second Half:
Villarreal squad was Barbosa; Mario, Bonera, Funes Mori, A. Marín; Leo Suárez, Fornals, Ramiro, Cazorla; Raba y Sansone.
Best chances fell to Villarreal, but they weren’t taken: an amazing move (Santi-Sansone-Raba-Leo Suarez) should have produced a goal in the 56th minute but the diminuitive Argentine failed to finish when it would have been easier to score. Shortly after that, OM scored—a period of possession led to some ping-pong in the box and Maxime Lopez fed Valere Germain, who did not miss. After that, apart from a move where Germain blasted over from almost the same spot as Samu C did in the first half, it was pretty much Villarreal making really nice passes (Santi Cazorla especially, also Fornals) but just not quite unlocking the goal.
With three minutes left a Santi pass led to what should have been a goal, or at least a penalty as Sansone was bundled over by the keeper, but the play was called back for a nonexistent offside. It’s preseason for the referees too :)
Most impressed with Ekambi; I’d be happy for Miguelon to stick around but don’t think he’s going to; Adrian Marin is surely departing once Layun arrives. Thinking about who was not here—Trigueros, Unal, Roberto Soriano, Bruno, Layun, Cheryshev—well.
I know Santi said he was still in pain after playing 25 minutes against Hercules and said he wasn’t a footballer yet, but watching some of those passes he made today, DAAAYYYYYUUUMMM. He’s still got it.
FT 1-1, just in case it wasn’t clear!