Wolves defeated Villarreal on a sunny West Midlands day before a crowd of nearly 20,000, with goals from Wily Boly and Raul Jimenez overturning a halftime lead courtesy of Gerard Moreno.
The result was unimportant, but there were certainly some concerns identified for Villarreal fans.
(1) we looked slow in responding to pressure. Jimenez, in particular, pressed hard and high, and we had a great deal of trouble playing out of the back.
(2) we looked slow in defending. Wolves came out of the halftime break on turbochargers and we had no answer. They won every loose ball, they drove past our defenders, they played some neat triangulation and diagonal passes and opened up space easily. Jota in particular was a handful.
(3) Some individual players were clearly off—Alvaro Gonzales gave away a penalty, was beaten for the first goal, and was generally in problems throughout; Alfonso Pedraza was a weak spot, especially in the second half, and Miguel Layun struggled as well.
On the positive side, we saw some good Gerard and Ekambi play, Pablo Fornals made two excellent passes, Santi Cazorla continued his comeback.
The match showed yet again why we need another centerback signing of quality and why we need a ball winner in midfield.
The balance between attack and defense is still off; and our attack was not that dangerous most of the time—we created maybe 4 decent chances in the first half, and really none in the second.
After about the 62 minute mark all the subs sort of took the flow out of the game, but I did want to note Mario Gaspar came on as a centerback again (partnered with Ruiz), Miguelón was—again—good, putting in a really dangerous cross that Nahuel couldn’t quite get to.
Overall, the 4-4-2, or 4-2-2-2, or whatever it was that we started in wasn’t too bad, but after our goal (which was only 18 minutes in) we hardly did anything else and spent the rest of the match on the back foot.
On this evidence (given that the EPL season starts next week), Wolves are going to be fun to watch; how they will fare against more physical sides that try to mark them out of the game remains to be seen. Still, they have enough quality to finish in the top half of the table for sure—good luck to them!!
It was a very friendly friendly, it seemed to me, and for the 19,000-odd in attendance, it was entertaining. (It was nice to get N’Diaye on the pitch to receive the applause of the fans who supported him last year in their colors—a nice touch). A bostin time at the old ground, indeed.
As for Villarreal, we have two weeks to get things ready before our first match, and transfer moves will certainly be happening quite soon. Today showed there’s still plenty of room for improvement, both on the training ground and in the makeup of the roster. Endavant!