Sunday, December 4, 2016

Valencia 2-2 Malaga match report

Did this team spend a previous life microwaving kittens for breakfast before spending the morning torturing small children? I'm struggling to understand why we seem to be permanently jinxed. For the third time this season Valencia squander the points by conceding a goal in the 93rd minute. That's a critical 4 points flushed down the toilet. If the team goes down to Segunda, which they will if they don 't start winning at least the home games, they can count games like this as the crucial ones. The frustrating thing, as always, is that there were many encouraging signs.

Prandelli is a man of habit who seems to know what he wants and so far he's stuck with mostly the same sides with little changes. In this game he continued the 5-3-2 that he had debuted the previous week against Sevilla. The only changes were for the injuries to Enzo and Nani, with Medran coming in for the former and Munir being rewarded for his good form by continuing in the team, partnering Rodrigo up front.

The game got off to an explosive start. Even with 5 midfielders, Valencia let Malaga go through their midfield like a knife through butter. This ineffectiveness quickly proved costly. Before I could even start dreaming about a Valencia clean sheet, Malaga had the ball in the net, running down our wing with Abdennour blocking well, but the rebound volleyed home from outside the area. Who was or should have been marking? Where was Suarez? This was a calamity and down to the midfield rather than the defence. 41 games out of 42 we have conceded.

A few minutes later it was all level again. Parejo whipped in a super free kick and Rodrigo made a smart run to plant a great header past the keeper. We had a similar chance in the 14th minute with an almost identical free kick, but Suarez popped up at the wrong end to make a key deflection to take the ball away from Munir who would have had a tap in.

For the neutrals, the first half was a lively one with Valencia edging it. Our left side looked the weak one with Siquiera not doing the business either in attack or and Abdennour, who was having a good game, often having to clean up for him and making some good interceptions. In the 33rd minute Parejo misplaced a pass and just as many of us were cursing him for a business-as-usual "Parejoism" he showed great determination to win back the ball and send the ball across the box, where Medran finished well.

For the first time this season in the league, Valencia were ahead (the team had been leading at half time in the cup against Leganes.)

As in the previous game, Valencia looked less threatening after the break, though we generally provided a more solid wall than in previous performances. While Malaga would have more of the ball and won a lot of the 50/50s, they were unable to do much with it. A really nervy second half looked to be ending in a hard fought victory until Malaga equalised with virtually the last kick of the game. Again, it's hard to argue that it was undeserved, Valencia had sat back for much of the second half and invited Malaga to have a go. Another crucial thing that seems to be missing, especially compared to some of the better VCF sides, including the one from Nuno's first season, is the ability to counterattack. Other sides, when winning like this, would not only be able to close the game down, but would be able to hit back on the break and establish a cushion.

PLAYER RATINGS

Alves 7 - looked solid, couldn't do anything about the goals
Siquiera 4 - weakest link of the back ineffective in attack, we need Gaya instead
Abdennour 7 - decent game, covered well for Siquiera and dealt with the threat of Ontiveros
Garay - 6.5 - good game, decent interceptions and had 80% passing effectivity at the end of 1st half
Mangala 6 - part of a mostly solid defence tonight, this one's down to the guys in front
Cancelo 6 - showed again why he's much better further advanced than as a defender
Suarez 4.5 - hard to imagine wy we traded out Fuego for him
Medran 6 - well taken goal, would Enzo have scored that? Deserves more starts.
Parejo 6.5 - Two great assists, looked tired at the end, had played every minute of all VCF games, so smart move from Prandelli to take him off, the first time this season he hasn't played the full 90.
Munir 6 - some good running and movement, but seems to have more understanding with Nani
Rodrigo 6.5 - great effort and well taken goal, now Valencia's top scorer

SUBS

Gaya 5 - didn't look fully fit, maybe why Siquiera started instead and should have been further back
Fede 5 - struggled to impose control on the midfield
Mina N/A - again looked out of sorts and at this rate his appearances will be limited to late subs


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Give Prandelli the full season

I know the results haven't been the most stellar and looking at the trend they are likely not going to get much better, maybe slightly better, but we have to stick with Prandelli and give him the support and confidence for the whole season. Fans need to be patient with the coach and it would be absurd if supporters(especially Spanish ones) started acting up. We are on our 3rd coach since Nuno, 4th if you count Voro the temporary coach, so just from purely numbers perspective we are out of coaching options.

Prandelli won the European cup with Italy, that is no small feat, you don't achieve that by chance, he knows which players to choose, what kind of tactics for each opponent, etc... He needs the full time to get to learn some basic Spanish so he can more effectively translate his thoughts to the players, his ideas and he needs time to learn the best tactics, formation and players for this team, he took over months after the season started and he hasn't had a summer preparation, he probably didn't even know much about VCF before coming on.

He still hasn't gotten it right in terms of best squad and optimate tactics and formation, but he is trying and changing stuff up, small changes and rotations, not sudden shifts to lay waste all that progress, he is slowly building up his preferred team, though it will probably take another 2-3 months before he is able to find the best possible squad and tactics and formation for that squad.

As I've been writing for I think about a year now, this team lacks good movement, this is THE PRIMARY ISSUE! When the team moves, they move as individuals, not as a team. This is why so often we only see 2-3 guys in attack, because the players don't move in unison, so when we are attacking, only the attackers are out there attacking, our back line is too far back, our midfield is too in the midfield, when the defense should be at the centre of the field, midfield should cover the 25-35 meters and the attackers should be anywhere between 25-10 meters from the opposing goal.

Right now Valencia CF defenders are in their own half, usually at least 5 to 10 meters back from the center line, midfield is somewhere on the centre line with ONLY Parejo slightly more forward at times. Then we have the 2 or 3 forwards our there in attack against 6-7 opposition players, this way they can never score, its almost impossible to score in such a situation.

So the PRIMARY ISSUE Prandelli needs to sort is team movement, team cohesion, team coordination, they need to all move in unison and move as a one single unit. Numbers in attack, numbers in midfield, numbers in defense, even the goalkeeper should be involved in game play, just like most modern teams with modern coaches like Juventus, Chelsea, Manchester City, etc...the play starts with the goalkeeper, he is the one who builds-up the play.

So while we shouldn't copy-paste 100% such system, especially when we don't have the proper players for it, but we should be implementing the features that we can do, that will benefit us, picks parts of that system and implement them. This team, this Valencia CF would literally become 2x times better just by learning better movement as a team!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Leganés 1-3 Valencia (Copa del Rey)

Valencia in two-goal win shocker! It's a sad comment on the team's recent misfortunes that this is the first time in over seven months that we've won by a 2-goal margin.

Prandelli stuck with the same 5-3-2 formation as the previous game. The injured Perez was replaced by Medran, with 4 other changes. However, there were no big surprises and no rare appearances for cantera players. With the exception of Jaume getting his first start of the season instead of Alves, the other replacements were all squad regulars: Munir, Gaya and Montoya. I guess the thinking was that, if the usual 11 can't do it, the usual 11 mixed with youth players are not likely to do it either.

Valencia were by far the better side in the first half and, for once, made it count. In just the second minute, Montoya floated a great ball over for Munir who needed just one touch to score. It wouldn't be all Valencia though and in fact it wouldn't be Valencia at all without some heart-stopping moments of fairly cowboy defending. In the 11th minute we lost the ball near our back line and the cross floated to the back post was just missed. Shortly after, Mangala took too long on the ball and just kicked it straight at a Leganés player who raced past him, squared it well and, with Jaume diving the wrong way, we got off lightly, with our opponents skying the ball over the bar.

On a positive note, Valencia were creating some chances, with Gaya heading over and Nani very unlucky not to score with a brilliant overhead kick. The pressure soon told, Montoya played a one-two with Munir and crossed well for Medran to head home. Valencia were 2-0 up, but looked almost determined to throw it away. Mangala was throwing himself around clumsily, got booked yet again and conceded a free kick in a dangerous position. In contrast, Montoya was having a good game, but there was the problem of him being too far forward and a Leganes break led to a dangerous opportunity, with Mangala redeeming himself by making a great block. From the resulting corner, Jaume produced a great one-handed save. For the first time this season, Valencia were leading at half time.

The second half saw a less assured Valencia performance, passes were being misplaced, the midfield was failing to assert control, chances were not being created and Leganes were being presented with too many chances and sure enough, Valencia gave away a needless goal in the 60th minute. There hardly looked any danger, with 3 defenders around one Leganes player, but he still managed to turn them and beat Jaume, who also should have done better. There were nervy moments after that, as Leganes pressed for the equaliser. With Mangala on the verge of a second yellow card, he was subbed off for Santos, while Fede and Bakkali would come on for Munir and Nani, leaving our forward line as the somewhat unusual Bakkali-Fede combo at the end, a clear sign of how lacking in depth we are in strikers.

Weirdly, it paid off. With the game petering out and Valencia seeming set for a narrow win, Bakkali was put through on the wing. He showed great skill in cutting inside and scoring from a narrow angle, as Leganes players stood off.

Not an amazing performance, with still some glaring issues, but the attack looked better with Munir in it, but it remains to be seen if 5-3-2 is the answer for us. We sacrificed a lot of possession and often got caught out on the wings. Nonetheless, a morale boosting win and one that should give us enough of a lead to reach the last 16. If you missed it, goals are on youtube at links like this one.

PLAYER RATINGS

Jaume 6 - great save in the first half, but looked out of sorts at times and should've done better for the goal.
Gaya 5.5 - limited impact and needs to work on his anticipation, as he got caught offside several times
Abdennour 6.5 - doing much better in this formation, made some timely interceptions and covered well
Garay 5.5 - at times the communication with Mangala doesn't seem to be there as it's unclear who should cover who
Mangala 4.5 - a let down, clumsy and had to use physicality to make up, will get sent off before long if he keeps this up
Montoya 7.5 - best game in a Valencia shirt. Lively and threatening and assisted both the first half goals.
Suarez 4 - utterly anonymous. Don't remember him touching the ball once and after 30 minutes I even had to check that he was playing.
Parejo 6 - limited to covering the midfield but was still able to link up at times
Medran 6.5 - good to see him back, decent first half with good passing, but less effective in the second
Nani 7 - decent game, creative and unlucky to score
Munir 7 - given his chance and took it well. Now joint top scorer with (a pitiful) 3 goals. Should start in future.

Subs
Santos 5 - couple of nervy moments and he looked rusty and not better than Mangala.
Fede N/A - limited impact
Bakkali N/A - showed why he's often the go-to impact sub with a great goal out of nothing


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Sevilla 2-1 Valencia

I know the problem. You know the problem. You'd have to be blind not to see it. Valencia is toothless up front. This affects all areas of our game. With no one up front to hold the ball up, the pressure immediately switches to our midfield and defence. Prandelli attempted to fix this, opting for a 5-3-2, with Abdennour recalled to play in a 3-man central defence and Siquiera and Cancelo as attacking full backs, with Nani partnering Rodrigo up front. Any defence which has Siquiera and Abdennour covering our left side causes shudders, but for the first half the formation generally did its job. With two proper strikers, we could even win with this formation, but that remains a dream.

The first half was mostly a turgid affair. Neither team really had many chances. A worrying moment came in the tenth minute when Sevilla were able to pass straight past 3 of our guys, though Vietto was flagged offside. Valencia's main chance came 5 minutes later when Rami misplaced a pass and Nani intercepted well, but blasted high and wide. The game was scrappy for much of this half, with Abdennour often charging around like a bull in a china shop and being lucky to avoid being booked. One of the problems for us lay in possession, which we struggled to retain and our passing was ineffective: 54% completion midway through the first half compared to 69% for Sevilla.

Sevilla were playing dirty and we were getting a few free kicks, but were unable to do anything with them. The main chance came in the 32nd minute, with another mistake by Rami being intercepted by Parejo, but his first touch was poor and a corner was the best we got.

For only the third time this season, Valencia had kept a clean sheet in the first half. But doing nothing up front was inevitably going to tell and in the 52nd minute Sevilla pressure lead to an own goal from Garay.

Valencia responded well. In the 60th minute a Parejo special almost caught the keeper out from distance. Nani shot over after turning well a minute after. Munir came on for Abdennour, turning the 5-3-2 into our usual 4-3-3. With Sevilla rattled, Cancelo threaded a good ball through for the sub Munir who showed Nani and Rodrigo how it should be done with a great finish. Though, Sevilla looked nervous after that, they were still able to come back. I've said it before, but Parejo fades badly at the end and it was his mistake, losing the ball which led to the corner from which Sevilla scored, exploiting another of our weaknesses: awful defending at corners.

Mina and Gaya came on, switching to a 3-3-4, but in a chaotic finish, we were unable to get anything, with Gaya blasting straight at the keeper with the last kick of the game to finish off another lousy day.

PLAYER RATINGS

Alves 6 - Not a lot to do
Siquiera 4.5 - Didn't look fully fit to me. Struggled a lot with Sarabia and offered little in attack.
Abdennour 5 - Not one of his worst games, but the same criticisms as before, too physical, lucky to escape a yellow and awful, unimaginative passing.
Garay 5.5 - Did his job for most of the time, but hasn't been the top class defender we hoped for.
Mangala 6.5 - Decent job in defence. Has been our best defender this season.
Cancelo 6 - Better off as an out and out right winger than a defender, some sloppy passing at times but great vision to create the goal.
Suarez 4 - Bypassed too easily at times and still not making a case for a permanent move.
Enzo 5 - Needs to show more control of the midfield than this and be better with passing.
Parejo 5 - Had his moments, especially with the free kick, but we'd be better off replacing him with Medran for the last 20 minutes.
Nani 5.5 - Some good tricks and skills but lacked understanding with his partner.
Rodrigo 4 - Had very little to work with, but also missed a couple of decent chances.

SUBS
Munir 6 - Great goal, should get more starts.
Mina N/A - largely wasted in a central midfield position, should be given more chances as central striker.
Gaya N/A - would have been better than Siquiera in a 5-man defence.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Valencia 1-1 Granada post-match thread

I have to apologise for the lack of a usual match report, but I was unable to get a reliable stream for this game, meaing I only watched the first 20 minutes and the last 25, so I'm putting up this thread instead for people to comment.

From what I saw of the game, though, there's little to add to what I've said in previous match reports. It was the same old story. Tonnes of possession but little real chances to show for it. We were woeful in the first 20 minutes and only marginally better at the end. Granada are the worst team in La Liga, coming to Mestalla with 4 draws and 7 defeats from their opening 11 games and 9 goals scored. Yet despite all that, and a 5-4-1 formation which was clearly designed to park the bus, they, like so many other teams, managed to score. That's 39 games out of 40 we have failed to keep a clean sheet. Granada were rubbish and are going down to Segunda and on the strength of performances like these, we have every chance of joining them. If we can't beat Granada, who can we beat? Valencia have really hit rock bottom, with little sign that we can exit from our malaise. The only way I can see us avoiding the drop now is if other teams are even more rubbish.

From the parts of the game I saw, Cancelo and Nani were the best on our side, though Nani's replacement for Bakkali was a little weird.

What do you think? Is there an exit from this?

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Analysis of Transfer Needs

Valencia CF finds itself in a tricky situation. Economically, it is not in a great place. The stadium got delayed again, the club has reported losses, and Financial Fair Play might be an issue despite a summer of heavy selling.

However, it is clear that the current squad just won’t do; it needs reinforcements. Because of the restrictions on the team financially, the team needs to prioritize its spending to get what it needs.

The most important thing right now is depth. As it is, we have 4 midfielders. That isn’t good for a team that likes to play with 3 midfielders regularly. It means that in the case of sanctions and injuries, the options become extremely limited. So, Valencia will definitely need at least one new central midfielder.

The ideal option would be a destroyer with good ball handling skills. A pipedream would be Morgan Schneiderlin, for example. He’s a possible option only because Manchester United wants to get rid of him this winter. However, due to the scarcity of players with that profile, it is more likely we will have to find a more regular central midfielder, like the Turkish Tolgay Arslan or the Mexican Hector Herrera. A truly cheap option would be a player like Fabregas or Esteban Granero, players with known quality who have been struggling recently and their teams are desperate to get rid of them.

Another position that needs strengthening is striker. Rodrigo Moreno is a very hard worker, and he has good positioning and makes good runs. However, it is a little known secret that his finishing can sometimes be sub-par. In addition, sometimes the team lacks a true physical presence when he plays. Players like Munir and Santi Mina are no better due to their slight frames.

The ideal buy would be someone like John Guidetti from Celta. Big, strong, surprisingly fast, and with good ball skills and associative play, he is exactly the type of player Valencia would benefit from. Seeing as he is such a good player, however, it would be unlikely that Celta let him go for a reasonable price. Other possibilities include Simone Zaza, who’s situation at West Ham is complicated at the moment, Belotti, another player who’s likely to be too expensive, or Gabbiadini from Napoli.


Valencia has done little to hint interest in any target in particular, so it’s difficult to say whether they will pursue any of the named players. However, it is likely that if they don’t go for the players themselves, they will go for the mold outlined above. 

Who do you think Valencia should go for? Feel free to tell us in the comments below.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Celta 2-1 Valencia

It's another day of frustration for Valencia. This had always looked a tough game on paper, but it's all the more frustrating because Valencia were the better side, but came away with nothing. Before the game odds had given Celta a 43% chance of winning, with a 30% chance for Valencia. By the start of the second half that had shifted to 25% for Celta and 35% for Valencia. Ultimately, it doesn't matter. Football is not about playing better, it's about putting the ball in the net.

Prandelli, as predicted, learned from his mistake of starting Abdennour in the previous game and switched Montoya to left back with Cancelo dropping back. Fede starting rather than Munir or Mina was the only real surprise.

Valencia started well, constantly pressing and pressurising Celta and giving them no opportunity at all to get the ball into dangerous positions. When Celta had the ball, they came up against two walls of four and the first half hour mostly was a midfield slugfest, with Valencia also unable to create any real chances. The only real one came in the tenth minute when a cross found Nani, who headed straight at the keeper.

In the 32nd minute, VCF were deservedly ahead. Rodrigo was hauled back in the area and Parejo slotted the penalty home well. It wouldn't last. The goal galvanised Celta who started to play better. 10 minutes later Celta had the ball in our box and 3 (!) of our players were unable to close down one guy, who had enough time and space to turn and shoot, with Suarez just watching the ball sail past him.

Valencia would be on top for most of the second half too. In the 49th minute Nani crossed well for Medran, who headed over. Rodrigo shot wide 5 minutes later from an angle but with only the goalkeeper to beat and Parejo and Nani also joined the "party" with misses of their own. After the 70th minute Valencia again started to get sloppy, concentration went and more and more passes found their way to opposition players. In the 75th minute we gave the ball away in midfield resulting in a good chance for them which Alves saved well. However, from the resultant corner, Celta scored. They'd had 3 chances the whole game and had scored twice. We'd had countless ones but had been useless in attack.

Prandelli belatedly brought on Mina and Munir but they did very little to change the dynamic of the game, which ended in a frustrating loss. If there's any criticism of Prandelli from this, it's that the subs should have come on 10 minutes earlier, when legs were starting to tire.

Valencia now has 10 points from 11 games. If we keep this points average, we'll end with 34 points. In all of the last 10 seasons, that would be enough to be relegated. The team that has finished 18th has had 35-43 points, with 39 being the average. Forget the Europa league, Valencia need to improve and fast, unless we want to play Murcia, Mirandes, Lugo and Huesca next season. The hard fact is that in the past, we could've complained about the manager or the defence. It's now obvious to most of us that the manager knows what he's doing but the players simply aren't good enough and only major reinforcements will improve things.

PLAYER RATINGS

Alves 7 - Didn't have a lot to do but mostly did his job well. Couldn't do much about the first goal in particular.
Montoya 4.5 - Average performance. Mostly held his ground well, but the first goal came from his side.
Garay 5.5 - Not living up to his 20m price tag so far. Should have closed the space down better for the first goal.
Mangala 6 - Reasonable enough game, was solid in the first half, but got a bit sloppy towards the end.
Cancelo 6 - No real mistakes to complain about, but he's far better off in an advanced position.
Suarez 5 - Was ok in the first half, but offers little going forward.
Medran 6 - Had a quiet game and was less effective with his passing than before.
Parejo 6.5 - There's a pattern emerging with him. Good in the first part of the game, but flags later and seems to lose concentration, with poor passing the result.
Nani 5 - Created a few chances, but missed a couple as well. All too often he can be a bit greedy and fails to track back
Rodrigo 5.5 - Same again. Tireless running, good closing down and this season, he's been getting himself in better positions, but can't finish to save his life.
Fede 5.5 - First start in two and a half years. His passing and decision making could be better, but he did track back well to help the defence.

SUBS
Munir 4 - highly rated by Barca fans, but it's hard to see why. Offered little after coming on.
Mina 3.5 - hard to know what's gone wrong, but the fact that Fede and Munir are now preferred ahead of him is a sign of how out of form he is. Might as well have stayed on the bench.






Sunday, November 6, 2016

Celta Vigo vs Valencia CF Match Preveiw

Celta Vigo vs Valencia CF Match Preview

Stadium: Balaidos
Date: 07.11.2016 16:15 CET 
11th matchday, La Liga 
Coaches: Eduardo Berizzo and Cesare Prandelli

Just when you think Valencia CF is ready to take a step forward and improve upon the play and results, they actually take a step back, that was the case last week against Deportivo La Coruno who Valencia CF managed to look like a world class opposition, and not a fellow relegation battle team. Everyone had high hopes after the FC Barcelona match, even though Valencia CF lost it was a terrific play from the team and an outstanding performance that if not for the referee Valencia CF might have even won it. 
Unfortunately that good play against Barcelona didn't translate against Depoirtivo and the team was back to their worst with sloppy passing, terrible final ball, missed chances and error prone defending. It was no surprise than that Valencia CF could barely muster up a draw in what could have easily been a heavy defeat.

Valencia CF coach Cesare Prandelli has said over and over again in interviews that he plans on having continuity in the team and stability, so he is going to go into this match against Celta Vigo with the same formation and the same players, with some forced changes due to injuries or suspensions. Since Enzo Perez is suspecded due to accumulation of 5 yellow cards, Mario Surez will likely be partnered by Alvaro Medran to form the defensive midfield, with Jose Luis Gaya still injured its likely going to be Montoya this time around at left back, since Aymen as always guaranteed a goal for the opposition. Even when the guy defends well overall, he always makes a crucial mistake that underscores all of the good he's done and damages the team.

Apart from that its going to be pretty much the same team, once again Bakkali not going to feature, this time due to a muscle injury and at this rate I would be surprised if we see him play at all. Between being injured and recuperating and just not being player due to tactical reasons, I doubt he'd have any minutes for the foreseeable future. 

Celta Vigo have also been quite weak and certainly not the team of last season or the season before that. It seems their time has gone, but they are still a dangerous and efficient team, certainly dangerous enough to give Valencia CF problems, especially with our leaky and error prone defense. The coach has talked about forming tighter lines between the players and pressuring immediately after losing the ball, but we'll have to wait and see if that manifests itself on the pitch, bad habits die slow and I doubt the players would so quickly start playing better football, personally I think it would take a full year for any meaningful changes to happen to the play style and mindset of the players.

Valencia CF Squad:
Goalkeepers: Diego, Jaume, Ryan
Defenders: Cancelo, Montoya, Mangala, Santos, Garay, Aymen, Siqueira
Midfielders: Suarez, Soler, Parejo, Medran, Fede, Nani
Forwards: Santi Mina, Moreno, Munir

Technical Details Valencia CF (probable setups):
Formation: 4-2-3-1
Line-up: Diego; Cancelo, Mangala, Garay, Montoya; Suarez, Medran; Fede, Parejo, Nani; Moreno
Tactics: Medium defensive line, own half pressure, fast tempo pressing, mixed style passing, winged attacks, counter attacks

Result Prediction:
Celta Vigo 2-2 Valencia CF
This is the result I think of when I think about this match, I'd love Valencia CF to win, I'd love to write 2-1 for VCF, but in reality I can't. I have to be objective and I don't see Valencia CF winning this match, if anything I think we should be lucky not to lose and at least get a point, I'd consider that a success at this point and go for the wins at our home terrain against weaker teams.