clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Villarreal 1-2 Alavés: quick reaction

New, comments
Getty Images

Well, Mario Gaspar put it best after the game. “We’re f***ed’, he said in Spanish. Win and we get out of the bottom three, but we get nothing. After a first half that was very tight with few chances for either side (and Villarreal was the better team, on balance) we were put to the sword by a clinical Alaves team that knew exactly what our weaknesses were and how to exploit them. Some quick takeaways (I apologize if they are depressing!):

(1) Villarreal’s attack was too predictable and too easy to defend. Credit to Alavés for defending well, but when we don’t have clinical finishers, they need plenty of opportunities...and we didn’t create many. Toko Ekambi and Bacca were both flagged for offside a good deal, and Ekambi put the only good chance he had wide of the far post. If he had scored that....

(2) Defensive frailties are back. We can argue about specific players being responsible for goals, but I just didn’t see any confidence from Asenjo, to start with. The back three (later back four) didn’t have a strong backbone anywhere.

(3) We need about 10 Santi Cazorlas. Santi seemed to be the one player who was playing with passion and desire for 90 minutes. Everyone else’s head dropped after the first goal, and again after the second. But Santi can’t do it all—Alavés worked very hard to close him down, realizing if they did that they would only have to deal with crosses from Mario (which are almost always poor) and Pedraza (better).

(4) Calleja seemed as frustrated as anyone, but his subs didn’t help. Tied at 1-1, we had to go for the win, yes, but removing Toko Ekambi and replacing him with Gerard made no sense to me. And Chukwueze for Funes Mori meant we changed from the 3-5-2/5-3-2 to 4-4-2, and that has not worked well for us.

(5) Season-long trends continue. Think back to our first (home) match of the season against La Real. We took a lead, but then an unforced error let them equalize, and then a second mistake led to a second goal and in spite of our attractive play to start, we got nothing. Similar here.

It’s pretty clear that our only hope here is if we can defeat the teams we have yet to play around us (Celta, Huesca, Rayo), get to something like 35-38 points somehow and hope three teams end up with less. I’m pretty sure if it is going to take 42 points to survive we won’t get there.

Next league match: Levante away. (after Zenit in the Europa in midweek). Talk about a game we don’t need. Could we just forget to board the plane for Russia?