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Betis 2-1 Villarreal: late penalty miss costs the Submarine

And....we’re back in the relegation places.

Villarreal CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Disappointment today as a Villarreal side fell back into the relegation zone after a 2-1 defeat at Real Betis. Here are some quick takeaways:

(1) While Santi Cazorla will doubtless feel this loss is on him—taking a poor, easily saved penalty that would have evened the score in the 88th minute—if not for Santi we would not have had that chance. Far and away—again—our best player on the pitch today. And he has been our best player all season. Chin up, Santi!!

(2) We cannot survive in the Primera allowing as many shots in a match as we are. We are averaging 15 shots against us per match—only Levante is worse. Unless a bunch of those are off target, asking your keeper to keep out 7-8 good chances a game is just too much. We were outshot 17-10 today. The fact that that is no reflection on how even the match was in many ways shows—again—where the weakness is.

(3) Was the team down a bit after the Barca draw? Could be—we recovered to equalize the score quickly once we went down but Iborra, Toko Ekambi, Morlanes, Pedraza—some of the players we’ve been relying on—had subpar games.

(4) Our centerbacks, our weak link to start with, are wearing down. Bonera was injured again and has played only a couple of hundred minutes all season. Alvaro was suspended for today’s match, of course, but has 13 yellows, including 6 in the last 6 matches in the league. Victor Ruiz picked up his 10th yellow card today and has 5 in the last 7 league games. Funes Mori has a dozen yellows and ‘only’ 4 cards in the last 7 league matches. Cards often come from fatigue and being caught out of position, of course.

(5) We can still get out of jail, but our path to do so is becoming vanishingly narrow.

On the road, we have four matches remaining, but Girona is really the only one where a win might be on the cards. Real Sociedad, Real Madrid and Getafe don’t look like good opportunities. We have only three home matches remaining, against Leganés, Huesca and Eibar. Those are all winnable in theory, to the extent theory still matters.

I think we need 39 or 40 points to survive (hopefully that will be enough, because I don’t see us getting more), so we really are down to needing to win three matches from the last seven when we have only 6 wins all season. That’s very tough. It’s especially tough when our back line is so fragile that we can’t count on keeping the opposition from scoring—and as noted above, this group, already thin, may be wearing down. 10 goals in the last 4 matches against us suggests so.

(6) Our mental toughness is being tested like never before. Several comments in the gamethread were spot on—we’ve now had two matches where a late penalty miss cost us a point, we gave away two-goal leads against Celta and Barca, earlier in the year a last-second Huesca goal cost us two points. That’s seven to nine points we gave away; if there’s one thing that has become increasingly clear, it’s that over the course of the season you make your own luck. We haven’t had much.

I have to be honest and say until this afternoon I expected we were going to survive. Now I am looking at the remaining month-and-a-half and realizing that we are not playing like a team that knows how—or has the ability to—grind out important wins to get out of danger. I fear a club like Valladolid is better equipped to do that (Celta I think are OK unless Iago Aspas goes down again). And we have the Europa League, which is important but also a distraction at this point.

Whether in Primera or Segunda, in good or in bad, Endavant Villarreal.