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Derby County player ratings v Villarreal: Chris Baird is captain fantastic

Derby County West Stand

Chris Baird and Will Hughes were the pick of the bunch as Derby County were left frustrated with just a draw against Villarreal.

Paul Clement’s vision at Derby County is becoming clearer and clearer by the day as the Rams were comfortably the better side against a very good Villarreal team.

Derby, who set up with diamond 4-4-2 formation, started very brightly and quickly asserted their dominance on the game, pushing Villarreal back into their own half.

A number of good attacking moves fell apart at the last pass for Clement’s side, and they were made to pay for their best attacking move of the first half when Villarreal hit on the counter-attack and scored from a rebounded shot following a Lee Grant save.

After the goal, however, the Rams looked to be the only side in the game and their performance in the second half showed why they are the favourites for the Championship title this season.

Jeff Hendrick, who had a free-kick heading into the top left-hand corner tipped over, and Chris Martin, who had a shot cleared off the line by a defender after going round the keeper, were the closest before the lively Andreas Weimann put Rams on level terms.

Johnny Russell’s excellent movement behind the La Liga side’s defence caused them to bring him down in the box for a pentalty. However, Darren Bent failed to convert and the game finished 1-1.

Player Ratings: 

Lee Grant – 6; Chris Baird – 9, Richard Keogh – 8, Alex Pearce – 7, Stephen Warnock – 6; George Thorne – 7, Jeff Hendrick – 7, Will Hughes – 9,Tom Ince – 7; Andreas Weimann – 8, Chris Martin – 8.

Jamie Hanson – 6, Isak Ssewankambo – 6, Darren Bent – 5.

Analysis:

Derby look close to full throttle and their dominance over Villarreal showed they have the ability to be a force this coming season.

The team that played tonight is unlikely to be miles away from the starting eleven that will face Bolton in a little over one week’s time, and on this performance Clement can be confident it's a side that can get the win on his first league game in charge. 

Baird, who was named captain for the game, and Hughes were the pick of the bunch. However, there were no bad performances throughout the team and every player will have put themselves in a good light ahead of the Championship opener.

Clement is likely to rotate a number of players on Saturday, when the Rams travel to League One side Burton Albion in their last pre-season friendly, but it will be difficult for any player to show they deserve a starting place over the eleven that started on Wednesday night.

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