At the end of the first half I was literally halfway through typing a tweet that said we had seen another slow first half from Villarreal when BOOM, Manu Trigueros turns loose a gorgeous through ball that Paco Alcacer latched onto. It was incredible how much space Paco had. He practically jogged up to the goalie who had no chance and with total composure dispatched his first goal in a Villarreal shirt.
Because La Liga refs are notoriously abysmal, the linesman tried to call him off, and VAR actually did something right for once (still not worth the overall pain of VAR). Osasuna had bizarrely pressed so far up that what kept Paco on was not a defender but actually the halfway line itself. It was nearly comical.
From a chances perspective, this game was a weird one. Osasuna actually had more shots than we did but we had a much better selection of shots. You can see Understat’s take on the xG result below:
Something worth noting here, Understat gives a team 0.74 xG for a penalty attempt. I don’t put a lot of stock in that, so in my view this is more like 1.18xG to 0.95. The size of the mark for each shot tells you approximately how high the xG for the attempt was. Paco’s goal was 0.57 xG, Ruben’s wonderful, wonderful goal was 0.08 xG. I think this will correspond with most people’s eye test on the likelihood of those balls going in.
Trigueros led our team in xA (expected assists) with just that one chance created for Paco and Santi was the only player on the team with multiple key passes.
Tactically, I think we were much more effective today when we worked the ball through the middle. I was happy with a lot of things I saw today but something that did worry me very greatly is that Gerard Moreno and Paco Alcacer each had only one shot.
We’ve got to get our strikers more chances than that. I know Osasuna was playing defensive, I know they were clogging the middle every time Paco and Gerard made a run, but these are talented players that need the ball at their feet in better positions.
One thing I’m continuously impressed by when it comes to Javier Calleja is not so much his general tactics as it is his in game adjustments. His substitutions are almost always on point. Bringing on Chukwueze for Moreno was well timed given Moreno was just coming back from injury. Zambo for Trigueros gave the midfield more solidity as we tried to hold down the lead (even if Anguissa did get himself suspended for the Valladolid match) and Fer for Paco was a well timed crowd pleaser. Well done to the manager today.
Overall, a very good performance and the win we needed at home. We’re in 7th place, which is usually a European spot in this league, and hopefully we can stay here or better the rest of the year. Endavant!