UEFA.com's Delfín Ramírez sums up Villarreal CF's 2-1 defeat of FC Salzburg with praise for Marcelino, Mateo Musacchio, Denis Cheryshev, Luciano Vietto and Jonatan Soriano.
Article top media content
UEFA.com reporter Delfín Ramírez gives his thoughts after watching Villarreal CF's 2-1 UEFA Europa League round of 32 first-leg defeat of FC Salzburg, which leaves the tie poised ahead of Thursday's return in Austria.
Marcelino: Villarreal's talisman
Marcelino has been a transformative figure at Villarreal since being appointed coach in the middle of 2012/13. He took over when they were in the second division and on a poor run of results, yet was able to turn the tide and win promotion to the top flight that season. Now they are in the latter stages of European competition and the coach has made it clear that team spirit is paramount. When things looked worrying after the equaliser, his side reacted and surely Marcelino had much to do with that.
Jonatan Soriano: an example to follow
Overcoming the loss of two key players is not easy. Alan, top scorer in the group stage with eight goals, and playmaker Kevin Kampl left Salzburg in the winter. But captain Jonatan Soriano has accepted even greater responsibility and it is his penalty that could yet prove crucial. "We went into the game with uncertainty due to the several players we've lost," the Spanish forward said. "We didn't know what shape we'd be in, but the team were fine."
Cheryshev and Vietto: dangers on the left
Two sensations of the Spanish season with Villarreal have now proved themselves on the continental stage, causing a notable headache for Salzburg. Their connection on the left wing certainly troubled the Salzburg back line. "Denis Cheryshev is a great player who I complement very well – we are both very fast and we try to surprise teams with our speed," said Argentinian striker Luciano Vietto, while Russia winger Cheryshev added: "Vietto is top quality. We understand each other really well." Marcelino will be happy to read these words
Mateo Musacchio is back
After missing the last five Group A games with a hamstring injury, the 24-year-old centre-back returned to the Villarreal lineup a month ago and has quickly re-established himself as the defensive kingpin of Marcelino's side. Indeed, his presence is even more important given Gabriel's departure to Arsenal FC. Without their midfield inspiration Bruno Soriano, the new skipper on the pitch showed true leadership.
Goals in store
It may have finished 2-1, yet there were chances aplenty in this first leg and, with 39 goals between them in the competition proper, expect further excitement from these teams in Thursday's sequel in Salzburg.