Villarreal did play a match yesterday, so let’s focus on that, shall we? The match against Levante was really something of a must-win match after failing against Osasuna, and the Submarine responded to the challenge with style. Highlights here:
Villarreal’s 4-4-2 had Carlos Bacca partnering Gerard Moreno up front, Samu Chukwueze and Moi Gomez on either side of Parejo and Coquelin in the midfield, and a rare rest for Raul Albiol as the back four were Mario, Foyth, Pau and Pedraza in front of Sergio Asenjo.
Our initial score (officially an own goal) was a cross from Mario that was turned into the Levante net before Bacca could volley it home, and even after s five minutes it was already clear that Levante’s back line was going to have problems dealing with Samu, whose runs were pulling them out of shape, as well as Gerard. And it was our star striker who added to our lead, controlling a long pass and turning a defender inside out before slamming a shot past Aitor. 2-0 after 13 minutes!
Levante had to respond, and they did so by pressing us even harder in our defensive third. This created more opportunities for Villarreal to break in numbers when they broke the press, but also resulted in Levante’s goal—a dreadful error from Coquelin—a poor first touch and lack of awareness of the opponent being on him gave Maksa an opportunity he didn’t miss.
At the other end, Villarreal had more chances, but most of them fell to Samu, and he couldn’t finish them off.
HT Levante 1-2 Villarreal
Zach commented at the break that we just needed to tighten up our play out from the back and we would be fine, and that’s pretty much what happened. Paco and Samu, especially, lived just on the edge of the offside trap, with Gerard more willing to drop off a bit to act as a conduit for passes out from the back. Samu must’ve taken some lessons from Gerard on finishing at halftime, because he and Paco combined on our third goal just after the hour mark, and he added our fifth about 10 minutes later, shortly after our fourth (Paco would have scored it if “own goal” hadn’t).
FT Levante 1-5 Villarreal
This had to feel like some revenge against the team that knocked us out of the Copa, but more than that, it was a match where we mostly played really well for 90 minutes and looked like a really dangerous opponent, and that’s good to see.
MoTM for me had to be Samu Chukwueze; Gerard was excellent as always, but this was a match where Samu’s speed was paramount. (I still wish his right foot did more than keeping him upright while he dribbles and shoots with his left, but hey). Juan Foyth had a fine game at CB, Dani Parejo had one of his best matches in awhile (same for Moi, same for Paco).
The only player who didn’t acquit himself well was Coquelin—at fault for the goal and also went into the book right after our third goal with a bad foul on Ruben Rochina. The ref only gave him yellow, but it could just as easily have been red.
A nice rest for Albiol, Trigueros played the last 10 minutes, Gerard, Samu and Parejo all got to come off early. Good, as we travel to the Basque Country to face Alavés (undefeated under new boss Javi Calleja) on Wednesday!