Villarreal CF – Match Report vs SD Huesca 13/09/2020

Villarreal started their La Liga season at home to newly promoted Huesca. After finishing 5th last year Villarreal were hoping to get off to a strong start under Unai Emery but they found things difficult against a well organised Huesca side despite dominating the ball. They needed a second half penalty from Moreno to earn them a point after being behind to a Pablo Maffeo goal before half time and they struggled to create as much as they would’ve hoped. Villareal played a 4-4-2 formation as they looked to create down both flanks through their full backs and wingers.

Ratings

  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level
  • B2 – Potential to be strong player at level
  • C – Average for the level, rewatch
  • D – Below average in this match

Samuel Chukwueze

Player profile:

  • Nationality: Nigerian
  • Age: 21
  • Date of birth: 22/05/1999
  • Current Club: Villarreal CF
  • Career: Diamond Academy, Villarreal
  • Position: Right Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Left

Chukwueze played this game on the right of Villarreal’s midfield four and had a decent game but struggled to exert much influence in areas that mattered for long periods in the match. Chukwueze took up positions very wide on the right and stayed tight to the touchline a lot when Villarreal were in possession. From these positions he could use his pace and dribbling ability to run at players down the line or dip inside onto his stronger left foot and open up angles for infield passes or crosses. He seemed to prefer to come and get the ball to feet rather than running in behind to stretch the defence.

His first touch was generally quite good, he looked to be positive with his first touch and move the ball forward rather than taking an extra touch to get the ball under control. This meant that his first touch was sometimes a bit heavy and got away from him but he was mostly able to retain possession with it and get on the front foot quickly by moving the ball with his first touch. When he was on the ball he used it pretty well, he didn’t hold on to it for too long and try to do too much, he took good pass choices and he kept his passing short and crisp for the whole match. He was able to play some good first time passes when receiving the ball before making a move to receive again and he moved the ball intelligently when he was in and around the box as he managed to create good space for himself and teammates.

At 5’8″, Chukwueze possesses good pace and agility which complements his good ball control as he as able to carry the ball at speed easily. He used his body well when in possession and was able to draw a number of fouls by getting in between the man and the ball or by drawing a defender into before moving away quickly. He was rarely involved in any aerial duels but he was strong in tackles and ground duels when defending and attacking and he worked hard to help out defensively down the right side with his fullback and was able to win back possession and prevent crosses going in a few times.

When the ball was on the opposite flank Chukwueze moved in to more central areas to pick the ball up at times and he looked dangerous when he attacked the defence from the middle of the pitch too. Sometimes he seemed reluctant to attack the area when crosses came from the opposite wing as he stuck out wide on the right a lot of the time and he perhaps missed some opportunities to be on the end of deeper crosses in dangerous positions. His best period of the game came in the first 20 or so minutes and after that he struggled to find as much space or get on the ball as much as 2 or 3 Huesca defenders would regularly crowd him out.

Rating – B1

Pau Torres

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Spanish
  • Age: 23
  • Date of birth: 16/01/1997
  • Current Club: Villarreal CF
  • Career: Villarreal (Y), Malaga (L), Villarreal
  • Position: Centre Back
  • Preferred foot: Left

Pau played as Villarreal’s left sided centre half in this game where he was probably the best of Villarreal’s back four but he was too involved in many defensive actions. At 6’3″ tall he was able to win or at least make it difficult for attackers to beat him in the air, he was strong and was able to prevent many if any balls getting past him while he was defending.

He showed decent pace, especially for his size, as he was able to cover attackers running beyond him and make some good recovery runs to prevent counter attacks all while sweeping up and coming at with possession rather than clearing off the pitch. He was composed at the back and showed himself to be a good 1 v 1 defender, when attackers tried to stand him up he was able to get a foot in to make a tackle or show them into another defender in order to win the ball back. He also showed good positional awareness as he was able to step out of defence or across into the left back area to meet and intercept passes before they could develop into anything particularly threatening. However, he and Albiol sometimes seemed a bit slow to bring their defensive line up and as a result Huesca seemed to have a lot of time and space on the ball in midfield areas.

In the first half, he seemed to struggle to find space to receive the ball from his goalkeeper or make options for midfielders especially in comparison to Albiol his defensive partner who saw more of the ball in the first half of the game. When he did get on the ball he showed confidence to carry the ball forward into midfield at times and he demonstrated a good passing range as he played some good diagonal passes to the wide players to get them in behind full backs. Both his short and long passing was accurate throughout the game as he rarely misplaced a pass and he struck passes smoothly so they were easy for the receiver to take on the turn. He saw more of the ball in the second half as Huesca started to drop a little deeper and he was a solid on the ball defender.

Rating – B1

Alfonso Pedraza

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Spanish
  • Age: 24
  • Date of birth: 09/04/1996
  • Current Club: Villarreal CF
  • Career: Villarreal (Y), Lugo (L), Leeds (L), Alaves (L), Real Betis (L), Villarreal
  • Position: Left Back
  • Secondary Position: Left Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Left

Pedraza played this game at left back for Villarreal and had an underwhelming game making no real impact on either the attacking or defensive phases of play.

Pedraza took up a quite advanced position on the left when Villarreal attacked and his tendencies as a left midfielder were clear to see as he looked to creep forward at every opportunity. His eagerness to get forward meant that he was often caught out of position in defensive transitions and Huesca’s goal came from the left back area as Pedraza got caught in the middle of the pitch while they moved it out wide into the free area on Villarreal’s left before Maffeo cut inside Pedraza before finishing off a great move. Pedraza needed to get back into position quickly and his panic and desperation to get back to cover the wide area meant he could offer little resistance to the eventual goalscorer when he received the ball as he couldn’t shift his momentum to get close to him.

Throughout the rest of the game he was also quite passive when defending, he occupied some decent positions that deterred Huesca from attacking down his side but he rarely engaged an attacker and tended to just back off and jockey them. When he was defending he was too close to Pau Torres at left centre back, his position was too narrow which afforded the Huesca wide players too much space to deliver crosses or time to pass in the the middle. He struggled at times in both aerial duels and when tackling or in 50/50’s and seemed to lack some physicality to compete with Huesca’s attackers despite coming in at 6ft tall, which meant he was sometimes forced to foul them instead.

Pedraza’s passing was accurate throughout the game as he played high percentage passes and kept things simple. He did get some joy down the left side, he was able to to deliver a few crosses which caused some trouble and he carried the ball pretty well but he struggled to beat defenders when dribbling. He had decent pace which helped him when getting up the wing to attack and to recover defensively but overall he didn’t look entirely comfortable as a left back.

Rating – C

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