Madrid bewildered and lazy in Villarreal
"I can’t cut off my arm, ref!" Villarreal defender Bruno complained. The ball hit him off a rebound, he didn’t move his arm towards it nor have it there to deliberately stop the ball’s path. But Gil Manzano gave a penalty, spoiling his performance and the course of the game. A good match, with an excellent hour from Villarreal, going 2-0 up against a bewildered and lazy Madrid who only reacted when defeated. Isco came on, and Madrid started to run the game, Villarreal panicked and were bombarded, conceding two goals and that penalty. A complete turnaround. For Villarreal, that was the least of their displeasure: the biggest was the new injury to Sergio Asenjo.
Morata replacing Benzema not trivial to comeback
Until going down 2-0, Madrid were characterised by their classic defect with the BBC: they helped little to nothing in defence, the midfield was in danger of being overrun, and the team were pinned back by their opponents at pleasure. And when Madrid did manage to recover the ball, their forwards were left too far away. Unable to find them, they ended up losing it. That happened more and more as the minutes went on, because as the mistrust grew amongst Madrid, Villarreal, on the other hand, grew in confidence and played very well. They danced around Madrid for a good while. Then, with the changes (Morata on for Benzema was in no way trivial to this), effort levels went up, the attack was bolstered, and Madrid sparked to life, ultimately regaining their position at the top of LaLiga having been held for a few hours by Barça.
Barcelona's win over Atletico spoiled by that soft penalty
That was because Barça won at the Calderon a game played on very dry grass (something that I suspect was a trick shot at Luis Enrique that backfired on Simeone). For Atletico’s forwards (the two Frenchmen, and El Niño Torres ...) their link up play would have been better on a moister surface. The game was exciting though, played between a tired Atletico and a melancholic-looking Barça who still knew how to compete. They scored their goals from two rebounds in an area in which Atletico, so normally very sharp, became unstuck. A happy afternoon for Barça, but one which was ruined by Madrid’s half-hour response…and even more so that penalty.