Y’all know me, I’m a stats nerd. The number I wanted to see after the match on Saturday was ‘what was the final xG?” Turns out, we won that battle 2.1-0.1 in a match that ended 1-0. In some ways, this match was a good one to help explain what xG does. All of us who watched it knew we deserved a first half lead based on the run of play, it just never came. All of us knew that Celta did very little whatsoever to threaten our goal, and the comparative xG just quantifies that. The goal that finally went in from Trigueros had, according to Fbref, an xG of 0.3, or to think of it another way, about 30% chance of going in, which in the world of football, is very good.
Digging a little deeper, we nearly doubled Celta in the progressive distance we covered via dribbles and had about 900 yards more progressive distance passing than they did. These numbers, to me, are a bigger deal than the possession stats because they show what we did with that possession. We didn’t just go side to side with the ball we pressured the goal.
Three of our shots were the ultimate result from dead ball situations, only one came from a dribble. Seven shots came purely from open play passing and of those only one was outside the box meaning we weren’t just creating shots we were working the ball into good areas to shoot.
There have been matches this season where we won and I came away thinking the scoreline covered up a bad performance. Not so here. Even if Trigueros hadn’t found the back of the net, this would have been a well played match by Villarreal. Celta changing their midfield configuration at halftime kept us from being quite as dominant after the break but nonetheless I believe we were the better team throughout. Our defensive display was excellent all night and we seemed to have a real plan going forward for much of the match. There are probably some nits to pick but overall this was a good three points on the road. Now, on to Mallorca and hopefully another win!