Whereever Javi Calleja is, he can’t be very happy, because since firing him, Vilarreal haven’t done anything to suggest they’re going to be in the Primera next season. Our last win was in November (2-1 over Betis, when Calleja was still boss).
Toko Ekambi replaced Samu on the right wing in the 4-2-3-1, Trigueros partnered Iborra in the pivote, and Alvaro and Funes Mori were the centerbacks with Ruiz unable to go. But Gerard started again. WHY????
The first half of today’s match was extremely forgettable. Villarreal’s only shot on goal came in the 18th minute, but unfortunately, it was st the wrong goal. Muinain’s cross was narrowly missed by a diving Funes Mori, but Jaume Costa didn’t miss—his slide directed the ball into the corner of the goal. To be fair, had the cross gone through, Cordoba and Williams were ready to do their thing.
Anyway, that was it for the first half. Villarreal had no shots and precious little ideas or passion. The only real positive was Iborra was good at winning headers in the middle of the pitch.
Things got a bit better for Villarreal once they had subbed off Fornals and the luckless Costa for Pedraza and Samu, moving to a 4-4-2, and got even better once Bacca replaced Gerard. Right after that last switch, Villarreal equalized, Pedraza crossing for Toko Ekambi to finish.
Highlights are here, though they don’t show the goal Athletic scored but it was waved off for offside. Yuri Berchiche looked to be marginally off to me when the pass was made to him on the left wing, with everyone appealing for offside Williams got the pass back and slotted home. VAR said no goal which I thought was the right call looking at the replays, but others may disagree. (I have since seen a still imagine with the VAR analysis and it confirms offside was the correct call)
At any rate, I think the fanbase is entitled to know why Gerard continues to start while Bacca does not, and why players like Miguelon only get played in meaningless games. And, what has changed for the better under our new coach. The style of play is the same, the lack of passion is the same, and the lack of a cutting edge is going to be there as long as we continue to start Gerard, especially as a single striker.
A 4-4-2 with Santi, Trigueros (or Caseres), Iborra and Samu in midfield and Toko Ekambi and Bacca as the strikers might be our way out of this; or, the 4-2-3-1 but with Santi-Fornals-Toko Ekambi as the three and Bacca as the one. And put Miguelon and Pedraza as the fullbacks. It’s time to swing for the fences.