Villarreal dominated play for the first half without scoring, then fell victim to two body blows in the second half—an early goal from Stuani, and what looks to be a severe knee injury for Santy Caceres. After that, our energy was gone and Villarreal fell to another home defeat—the second in two matches.
Toko Ekambi, Gerard Moreno, Santy Caceres, Pablo Fornals and Santi Cazorla all created beautiful play but somehow failed to convert any of their chances—well, Ekambi did, but following a VAR review he was adjudged to be offside. But Villarreal’s lack of balance was continually evident—the diamond midfield with Caceres at the back offers a great deal offensively, but not defensively.
The only good thing about this disaster is that with the international break, we don’t play again until September 16. It’s a bit early to panic after three matches, but we don’t have a good backup for Caceres, Coach Calleja still keeps trying to use the diamond formation even though the evidence shows it’s not working, and with Castillejo and Cheryshev gone, we don’t have a lot of ability to vary things. Oh, and our defense continues to be easily punished at least once a game.
It’s amazing that with all the offensive talent this team has, we have not been able to score more than once in three matches. Today was unlucky, for sure, but our performance over the last thirty minutes plus injury time were genuinely worrying. Calleja may be Roig’s choice for the job, but if we don’t win either of our next two league matches (and one of those is a derby at home against Valencia, September 23) the discontent will be hard to ignore.
Our MotM: Santy Caceres, before he was injured, and Gerard in the first half.