Breaking Down Suso's Almeria Debut Versus Villarreal

Tom Szczerbowski

On Monday evening, Suso made his La Liga debut for newly promoted Almeria in a tough 3-2 defeat to fellow recent promotee Villarreal. Wearing the #17 for his new club, Suso began the night on the left wing, but after only receiving four passes in the first 14 minutes of the match was moved to the right wing, where he instantly became more influential, providing width on the right but also cutting in on his stronger left foot:


In the 39th minute, Suso played a perfectly-weighted ball to the onrushing Almeria right fullback Rafita, who in turn fed striker Rodri for a 1-0 lead, which Almeria took with them into halftime. The lead evaporated away in the 65th minute when Villarreal substitute Jonathan Pereira took a shot that deflected off Almeria left back Sebastian Dubarbier and into the net. Almeria would regain the lead in the 65' with Rodri finishing a nice cross from Suso, aided by a poor trap by Villareal and some usage of hand from Rodri. However, Almeria proved unable to retain this lead despite being the better side for most of the match (with possession in favor of Almeria 56.5% to Villarreal's 43.5%, and passing statistics in favor of Almeria 342-231), wilting under Villarreal's pressure and conceding late goals to Giovanni dos Santos and Pereira in the 83rd and 86th minutes, respectively. Suso had one bright moment at the end of the match, curling in a quality ball to Almeria substitute forward Oscar Diaz, but Diaz was unable to finish the potential equalizer.

The match was a tough one for Almeria, who may grow to regret the loss more and more as their campaign to stay in La Liga after promotion goes on. For Suso, it was a bright start to his season at Almeria, albeit with some concerns. On the attacking end, Suso had bright moments in providing a primary and secondary assist on each of Rodri's goals, and was perhaps unfortunate not to have a second assist late in the match. His shooting left something to be desired, as he telegraphed his first of three shots, allowing it to be easily blocked. His final two shots were off target, one decidedly uglier than the other. Suso's passing numbers were 36 of 46 for a 78% completion, and he was tied for the lead in the game for successful final third passes, completing 17 of 24. But factoring in his one successful cross out of ten and one successful corner (a short corner pass) out of four, Suso's total passing was only 37 of 56, for a 66% completion rate. Granted, Almeria's tactics are a bit more static than Rodgers' fluid Liverpool side, but it is worthwhile to keep an eye on this as the season progresses.


Defensively speaking, Suso was credited for two interceptions and two successful tackles by Stats Zone (see above) but Squawka only has him credited for the one on the right side of the pitch, which is honestly the only tackle I remember him making. He did track back well that one occasion, but a look at his heat map and that of his counterpart, Villareal LB Jaume Costa, indicates that his work-rate perhaps could have been better:



Suso's workrate has been a concern from some, and while it wasn't truly exploited yesterday, it could be a larger issue whenever he comes up against one of the better full backs in La Liga. In any case, he wasn't as diligent as Henderson proved to be against Stoke on Saturday, though Villarreal did see less of the ball than Stoke did against Liverpool.

Below is a clip of Suso in action yesterday by LFC Tiki Taka (H/T manuyaji), with the buildup to Almeria's first goal beginning around the 2:35 mark and the assist to Rodri around the 5:00 mark:

Suso and Almeria return to action on Friday as they visit Getafe, last year's 10th place finishers in La Liga. Match time is set for 1900 BST/1400 EST, with coverage in the United States on beIN Sport. edit: not on beIN because they're apparently showing Monaco-Toulouse instead. It's premiering on beIN Sport en Espanol at 2400 EST/0500 BST Saturday, so if you want to watch it live...

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