Right out of the gate I want to focus on the positives. First, both goals were absolutely excellent today. Second, we only gave Levante two real chances all day. The sad part is that those two chances were the two best chances all day, and one of them cost us a goal.
I mentioned in our pre-match preview that Levante had the worst expected goals defensive record in La Liga for this season. Our offensive performance went down as the least amount of xG Levante had given up in the league since September. That’s right, September. Both our goals were incredibly well taken and full credit to Gerard and Moi for taking them, but having two goals should not cover up a bad defensive performance. Paco Alcacer was isolated all night. He had two shots, one key pass (the assist on the first goal) but only 19 touches on the night. We have to get him involved more. We had 13 shots tonight, which is fine, but none of those shots even counted for 0.1 xG. For some context, the average of all our shots for the season is 0.12 xG in open play, which comes from our combination of low xG long shots and much better chances closer to goal that we didn’t see in this match.
I am really not sure how to fix this. Bringing on Chukwueze for Paco didn’t improve it, bringing on Zambo for Iborra didn’t either. Mario had an awful game going forward, Ramiro had an awful day in the back. Things worked out because we were at home and had more talented players, but this isn’t a predictor for future success.
Defensively, I was just stunned at how many corners and free kicks just outside the box we conceded. Levante is near the very bottom of the table in chances created from from corner kicks, at 0.5 a game and they only get 0.4 free kick chances a game. From dead ball situations against us they had five attempts on goal. Basically our defenders were repeatedly caught in bad situations and they either took guys down or sent the ball out of bounds.
This game was a tactical mess. We had very little sustained buildup and our 51% possession was largely empty. I’m really not confident going into the Atleti game at the Wanda next week and as much of a mess as they’ve been they have a far better tactician in Cholo Simeone and we have Calleja who just.. doesn’t have a distinctive idea.
A win is a win, we’ll take the three points, but to get where we are trying to go things have to get better.