The sixth place team in La Liga hosting the fourth place team. One expected fireworks. In stead we got an anti-climax of a game. The onus was on Athletic to take the game to Villarreal. The home side needed a win to make the race for the last Champions League spot somewhat interesting. In stead, after this stalemate, Villarreal have a 10-point lead over Bilbao with 15 games remaining. In a league where away wins are still difficult, that is a substantial gap.
The Yellow Submarines will be happy with the point. Marcelino Garcia Toral’s men seemed to have learnt some important lessons from last season. They were well in the mix for fourth spot last season, but some soft defeats derailed that bid. This season, Villarreal may not score much, but they have certainly become tougher to beat, both, at home and on the road. The only concern that Garcia Toral will have is the injury to Mateo Musacchio. With Eric Bailly also currently sidelined, Villarreal will hope that their Argentine centre back is not seriously hurt. If most of the first team manages to stay fit, Villarreal should navigate their remaining fixtures while retaining that all-important fourth spot.