This match was wild from the get go. In the first half, Villarreal were fortunate to not concede a penalty when Raul Albiol very unnecessarily clotheslined Vinicius Jr in the box. The Brazilian forward then used this as a launching point for a series of dives that continued throughout the first half, going to ground over and over again crying for imaginary fouls.
Later in the half, Marco Asensio stamped badly on Iborra’s leg and very much should have been sent off, but this is La Liga and the officiating is never ever up to standard. Villarreal had the far better end of the chances in the first half but was much quieter after the break.
Giovani Lo Celso was absolutely masterful in his first start for Villarreal. If he is going to play that way all season then we might need to switch to a three man midfield and start him together with Capoue and Parejo. We didn’t even notice the Frenchman’s absence today and I never would have predicted that.
Things got particularly crazy at the end of the match when Real Madrid had a series of chances. Gero Rulli made some big saves, Serge Aurier made an excellent goal line block of his own, and Luka Jovic continued his lack of luck in a white shirt hitting the post on an otherwise beautiful chip.
They chose Gero Rulli as man of the match on the television and while he was good, it was Samu Chukwueze for me. He tormented Marcelo in a way that I am not sure I’ve ever seen before and Madrid had to commit two or three players to him every time he touched the ball, particularly in the first half. It’s just a shame we were not able to convert that into some sort of goal, and I think with Gerard on the pitch we would have.
Overall, Unai Emery gets it spot on agaisnt Real Madrid once again and we get a very strong point against the league leaders.