After three straight starts for Villarreal, Kubo was given a rest for the game against Real Valladolid. Rightly so, I mean. He did play 200 minutes in a week. I know youngsters can play a lot of minutes, but we have to realize that this team is very talented. Kubo can’t play every minute of every game, no matter how well he plays. At least for now.
Against Real Valladolid, he came on for Chukweuze on the 64th minute in what was a mixed to negative cameo for the Japanese starlet. He did have a few good touches, he did have a few good passes. But, there wasn’t anything productive or impactful in whatever good he did. Although, there were two things that Kubo did wrong, on both ends of the pitch. First, he made a very sloppy pass on the 81st minute. It resulted in a Valladolid chance, which was missed. It was pretty bad, if I’m honest. He could’ve done a lot of other things, but he took too much time on the ball and that resulted in a very careless move from Kubo:
Next, he had a great chance to score his second goal in a Villarreal shirt after Bacca opened his bag of tricks and masterfully set Kubo free. Unfortunately, Kubo’s shot was tame and it should have resulted in a goal. He needs the slightest bit of whatever goes his way to make a case for becoming a regular starter for Villarreal. Not just in the Europa League, but in the league as well. This isn’t that:
Other than these two incidents, Kubo didn’t really have anything to do in the short amount of time he played for. He had two completed dribbles, and completed 12 out of his 13 passes. The game was already done, and he just had to come on and make sure it stayed the way it was, if not bettered upon.
He earned his fourth start in five games against Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Europa League. This was a game which had its lows before the game started. There was a horrible storm that caused the game to be delayed by an hour, and the groundsmen had a lot of work to do to make sure it didn’t mess up schedules for either team. They deserve credit for it. They prevented it from getting postponed.
In this game, (which probably was Kubo’s best performance in Yellow, starting on the right flank but mainly being involved in the halfspace as a wide attacking midfielder), Kubo had five shot creating actions, four key passes, two passes into the attacking third, three into the penalty area, one completed dribble, and just a beautiful assist to Bacca for the second goal. Like really, this reminded me of what Ozil used to do in his prime. The way he noticed the space and dinked a gorgeous ball into the box was just beautiful:
Defensively, he won two tackles and had 17 presses, which is a season high for him. He isn’t asked to press that much usually, but he was in this game. This was because he had a specific zone to work in, and my good friend Zach wrote about this and so much more in his piece. Other than this, Kubo also lost the ball six times, which was, well, expected, but must be improved upon with time. This is one of the aspects of his game that needs more polishing than work, because we have seen that he is a great ball carrier; he just needs to be more effective and efficient.
Take was back on the bench for the crucial game against Getafe, a team that is resilient defensively and very good pressers. Kubo came on as a substitute at the 85th minute. He was brought on by Emery to have some fresh legs on the pitch that help close out the game. He played as a second striker with Carlos Bacca in a 4-4-2. He didn’t have more than five or six touches, he didn’t do much, really, because he didn’t have the minutes to. He did a fantastic croqueta on Marc Cucurella on the 90th minute. Thereafter, he was fouled, but he still continued to go on, and instantly wanted to take the free kick. It may not seem much, but to me, it showed intent to make an impact in the very limited minutes that he got. I liked that.
One thing I’ve noticed from all of the games that Kubo hasn’t played a single role in all of the games. Emery is clearly trying him out everywhere in the attack and concoct what his best position is, keeping the rest of the team in mind. I say that, because we know Kubo can play well on the right, but we have Chuckweuze there, another great talent. He can play central, but Villarreal play a two-striker formation, which honestly is most important for their success, with Moreno and Alcacer scoring a bucket load of goals. He has been decent on the left but Moi Gomez is just a fantastic player, so he won’t be benched either. At least, not until Kubo works hard and proves to Emery that there is something in him that the others just simply can’t provide.
Kubo will now be heading into an international break, and will be looking forward to get some minutes when Villarreal play his parent club — Real Madrid, on the 21st of November.