I probably will not be getting the lineups into this post before the match starts. Kickoff is 4pm here, I pick up a child from school at 3pm, and homework exists. Here’s hoping the area of composite shapes is simple enough that I can still catch most of the match.
I, personally, have a high tolerance for frustrating results when the team is playing well. For instance, last year we drew Atletico Madrid in a 0-0 match that was, as anyone watching could tell, a really quality football match. We played well, we were outgunned, but we held the eventual champions to 0.3 xG because of superb defensive organization. This season, we’ve already tied Atleti again, but this time we gave up 1.8 xG, barely generated any ourselves, and by sheer good fortune and good finishing from Manu and Danjumagic we lucked into a draw. The result is the same in each, but the performance in this year’s draw bothered me so much more.
With Parejo and Pau back, I had hoped to see us play better. In some ways we did against Atalanta and Mallorca, but crucial mistakes at the end of Atalanta and the lack of Gerard against Mallorca left the results still frustrating. We’ve also yet to see the early promise of Boulaye Dia’s heady play from early matches show itself in real goal production. Frankly, we’re up against it enough in this Elche match that how we play doesn’t matter nearly as much anymore as just whether we get the full three points or not. Draws are no longer acceptable, we follow this match by facing Real Madrid and Manchester United so if we are going to kick start our season it needs to start right now.
Part of me believes the boys will do it. That we’ll put together a complete performance and just run Elche off the field, but I’ve seen 17 draws in 42 league matches from Emery’s Villarreal (23 overall if you count the UEL, SC, and Copa matches that ended regular time tied) and it’s hard to not brace yourself for that repeating itself yet again.
So let’s buckle up and root for the lads, all the while hoping against hope that we feel something other than frustrated numbness at the end of this one.