Villarreal started its 2018-19 season with a very disappointing performance in front of a home crowd anxious to see the new-look Submarine. Santi Cazorla starting was a huge emotional lift for the team, and after a fairly even first ten minutes Villarreal began to turn it on.
Gerard Moreno scored in the 16th minute and there were nearly two goals in the next five minutes as the Submarine turned it on. But with five minutes to go before the break, Funes Mori, who had looked great to that point, miskicked a pass back to Sergio Asenjo, and Willian José pounced and fired the ball past the keeper.
After the break Villarreal inexplicably had a clear one-on-one, Gerard against Rulli, waved off; unfortunately, while the Submarine was somewhat the better of the two sides, it was—again—an unforced error that created a goal for the opposition. This time Alvaro Gonzalez managed to mistime what should have been a simple clearance of a long, rather hopeful bouncing pass forward, and Juanmi, who had just come on, slammed a strong shot past Asenjo from the top of the area.
The remaining time was noteworthy for a couple of Rulli interventions and a possible penalty shout turned down, and Villarreal getting Bacca, Gerard and Ekambi all on the pitch at the same time, but that was about it.
The good: Gerard Moreno—an incredible player. Never stops working and sees the game so well. Santy Caceres mixed it up in midfield pretty well and distributed the ball around nicely.
The okay: Alfonso Pedraza, who wasn’t bad but needs to work on his passing; Manu Morlanes, who won some balls back nicely in midfield. Toko Ekambi, who just wasn’t at his best today—just didn’t quite click. And Pablo Fornals who started on the right, he’s not a winger.
The poor: it’s tough on Funes Mori, who had looked really good up to the time he made the mistake, but—yeah. And Alvaro.
Interesting stat when Victor Ruiz didn’t play last year, 1.8 goals/match against us; when he did, 1.05.
Same problems we have had are still there, only the names have changed: Individual errors leading to goals (usually from the back four)—a lack of concentration. Defending on corners—dreadful. La Real actually scored off one, but the ref waved the goal off for a foul—a mistake I thought.
For all the discussion about formations (we used a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-1-2 mostly) what decided this match were two unforced, egregious errors. A lot to work on for Javi Calleja before we play at Seville a week from tomorrow.
Just a reminder, the transfer window is still open. Repeat after me: CENTER BACK.