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Calleja’s changes work as Villarreal defeat Leganés

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Asenjo in goal looked good, so did Anguissa and Bacca.

CD Leganes v Villarreal CF - La Liga Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

It wasn’t quite the 3-1 we predicted in the podcast, but we got the two first-half goals and three for Villarreal right. The Submarine brushed aside Leganés 3-0 in a rainy Butarque. Two goals from Gerard Moreno and an own goal from Silva provided the scoring, and Sergio Asenjo made one big save in the first half to keep a clean sheet.

Some takeaways from today:

(1) The fluid 4-3-3 we played worked well, especially against a side like Leganés that doesn’t put a lot of pressure on the ball. Gerard on the right, Bacca in the middle and Moi on the left were effective.

(2) If we didn’t have many shots on goal, that was a function of us trying to cross the ball a lot in the first half especially—Bacca had a powerful header pushed away (Gerard made the fine pass to him) but otherwise there weren’t many chances to score.

(3) The weather conditions were poor—pouring rain most of the match—and perhaps as a result the ref let a lot go, but we probably should have had a penalty in the 20th minute when Bacca was pushed down in the area. That was really the first thing that happened in the match of consequence.

(4) The second item of consequence was Asenjo coming up big two minutes later, making a key save from Oscar, was it? One of the few times our defense was caught out of position and he sensed the danger, came well out of his net, and made a big save.

(5) Gerard Moreno was outstanding today—his workrate (and he was getting fouled a lot by Lega’s Silva—I am sure Gerard enjoyed getting that second goal late on). And Santi Cazorla was excellent, setting up Gerard for the first goal.

(6) Interesting to watch how Calleja used Vicente Iborra in this one. He had a strong game, but was more of a traditional midfielder here—not so much box-to-box—and had six tackles, which easily led us.

In sum, pretty much everyone played well. It’s easy to say “well, it was a team we should have beaten” and yes, it was, but we did a good job of controlling Lega and making our superiority pay off. Javi Calleja has to be satisfied with the effort today, and with his game plan. It wasn’t the most exciting game to watch, but after blowing so many leads it was good to see us play confidently with the lead, take the “air out of the ball” and play good positional defense.

Next up, Real Valladolid, in the early kickoff on Saturday. Endavant!