Villarreal were missing some key players going into this game: Dani Parejo, Gerard Moreno and Pervis Estupinan were all ruled out through injury, but this meant Japanese wonderkid Take Kubo was handed his first league start of the season. Villarreal continued with the 433 shape that has been used in recent weeks, with Iborra at the base of midfield behind Coquelin and Trigueros.
The story of the game
Cádiz, fresh from their shock 1-0 win over Real Madrid last week, thought they had taken the lead when ex-Valencia striker Alvaro Negredo hit a left-footed strike into the bottom left corner 10 minutes in after a free kick, but this was ruled marginally offside following a VAR review. Villarreal dominated the ball, ending the match with 77% possession, but were unable to create regular chances, managing only two shots on target. Paco Alcacer came closest with a free kick late on that was parried out, in an otherwise uneventful match.
Villarreal had far more possession (77%) and passes completed (660 vs 142), but only 1 more shot on target (2/7 vs 1/6) than their hosts. Villarreal only created 0.5XG, but this was still higher than the 0.2 Cádiz produced.
It was clear to see that Cádiz set up to defend, and this represents a larger problem for Villarreal: how do they break down a deep block defence? Dani Parejo was missed in the middle, as his ability to speed up the ball and progress it forward was not replicated by Coquelin or Trigueros. Without a playmaker able to make incisive passes into the box, or a powerful striker in the air such as Gerard, Villarreal will continue to struggle against these types of opponent. Despite the attacking talent Kubo and Alcacer possess, neither had the desired impact against a tight defence that they would have liked, and Kubo on the whole was disappointingly quiet.
Player of the match
In a performance where the team created so little it was impossible to single out any attacking player for praise, but Pau Torres at centre back was the most impressive performer statistically. Pau completed 43/48 long passes, 111 passes overall, with a 90.2% completion rate, which was the most on the pitch, and his passes led everyone in progressive distance covered.
Villarreal have a busy week, playing Azerbaijan based Qarabag FK on Thursday in the Europa league, followed by the visit of Real Valladolid next Monday. Currently sitting 2 points off Real Sociedad at the top, Emery will be hoping for a strong performance next week to keep up with the leading pack.