Ahead of a really important league match with Real Sociedad on Saturday, Unai Emery put out a heavily rotated lineup. When you consider that our upcoming league opponents played most of their starters, maybe fresher legs will play to our benefit on the weekend.
A fairly dull first half was punctuated by a nicely worked Alex Baena goal right before the break, with a Ruben Pena run setting up Carlos Bacca who drew in the defense before grabbing an assist. Maccabi responded by scoring almost immediately after the break and then controlled the proceedings for a while before Unai Emery rather drastically put on four subs. After that the best football of the match was played but we couldn’t find a winner. Saborit was sent off late for Maccabi and I felt bad for him. Pena made an absolute meal of the contact.
Villarreal haven’t lost in two months, and this result doesn’t bother me. It would have been nice to win and finish off this group but we are still well on our way to advancing and haven’t exerted our players too much.
Standout performers, relatively speaking, were Bacca and Baena. Foyth and Funes Mori were really shaky at the back. The fullbacks were okay, poor Ruben got beat up time and again over the course of the match. Wasn’t impressed at all by Kubo or Chukwueze.
Every game can’t be a statement, sometimes your opponent just needs an result worse than you do and it shows. This Europa League campaign is still going to plan. On to the next.