Villarreal 0-0 Athletic Club. Quick takeaways:
(1) Villarreal dominated the first 20 minutes, could have been a goal or two up. Simón had a nice save on Santi (he ended up putting another shot over the bar). And Yuri could have been called for a handball in the area, too—maybe it was ball to hand, but I’ve sure seen those given. The referee didn’t even ask for VAR, though.
(2) Best chance of the match was Gerard’s, but Simón made himself big to stop the volley (which Gerard had to pretty much put where it went, he had no time to place it). Ekambi was wide open in front but l don’t think Gerard saw him and even if he had, I think the goal might have been blown back for offside—Toko looked like he was offside when Santi’s pass came in.
(3) Ruben Peña looked strong; we were very right-sided today in attack, and Peña was a big part of that—especially in the first hour or so.
(4) Our subs made sense, I suppose, but didn’t change anything. Ontiveros touched the ball as many times in 11 minutes as Samu did in nearly 30, and Bacca hardly saw the ball either. Samu did have one big run shortly after coming in and made a nice pass to SAnti, but his shot was wide of the far post. And after that, it seemed like there were three guys watching Samu anytime the ball got near him.
Trigueros would have been a better sub than Bacca, though; once Anguissa left, we were very unbalanced and it’s no coincidence that Athletic’s strongest spell of attack came in the last 10 minutes, after Anguissa departed. I hope Calleja learns from that.
(5) At the same time, full credit to our defensive game—I was expecting much more from Iker Muniain but I hardly realized he played. And Williams was kept in check too. The best chance for a visitors’ score from open play was Raúl Garcia’s shot wide of the post—one of the few times in the match our defense was caught in retreat.
(6) Can someone explain to me what Ontiveros’s yellow card was for? He got a two-handed shove in the back, so I’m not sure I understand the “diving” suggestion. The referee let the teams play, for the most part, but Gerard and he seemed to have a running feud most of the match—seemed like every call went against Gerard, and he wasn’t happy about it.
(7) Athletic did what they wanted to do; if we had gotten an early goal it would have opened the game up and then our fleet subs could have created more, but so it goes. At least we come away with something.
(8) And yes, that is our first time shut out at home since the 1-0 loss to Valladolid last September (28 games, all competitions) and first time shut out at all since the 2-0 loss to Valencia in the Europa League last April, or (in the league) since the 2-0 loss to Atletico Madrid last February.
Next week, Mallorca, on the island. Endavant!
MoTM: Gerard, Santi, Albiol, Anguissa.