Saturday, December 9, 2017

Valencia 2-1 Celta

After an excellent start to the season, Valencia have looked a little more vulnerable of late. The thrashing of Sevilla was the last time the team really impressed. Since then, it's not like we've played badly, with 10 points from 5 games, but the team laboured to wins over Alaves and Leganes, should have probably lost to Espanyol and Barcelona and did lose to Getafe, despite having an extra man for 65 minutes. A convincing win was crucial to get us back on track, especially with Real Madrid winning to move level with us on points. The team managed it, though with a hard fought and nervy win.

Marcelino, for the first time this season, went for an unchanged line-up. Unfortunately, that's more a reflection of Valencia's lack of squad depth rather than a tough choice made by the manager.

In recent games, Valencia have never really taken off until the second half, but that didn't happen here. The team got off to a flying start, with Vezo unlucky not to score in the first minute, hitting the post from a corner. While Celta had a few breaks of their own, our defence proved equal to them and Valencia had the best chances. Zaza showed a great turn of pace near the corner, to force a save at their near post. Soler was put through but from an angle, dragged his shot wide when going for the near post. A superb flick on from Zaza put Gaya in, but the keeper saved. Finally, Valencia got a deserved lead, with Zaza heading in from a corner.

Celta probably should have had a penalty in the 10th minute, Paulista tripping one of their players inside but the ref didn't notice. Their best chance came in the 34th minute. Paulista sliced his clearance and Sisto's return found Aspas, whose diving header was brilliantly saved by Neto.

Any hopes that Valencia would continue the same way in the second half were quickly rubbed out as Celta scored. Errors by numerous players led to the equaliser. First, Montoya lost the ball in attack, then Parejo failed to track well enough to cut out the counter. Vezo mucked up our offside trap by playing them onside. Then him, Gaya and Kondogbia were unable to stop their player cutting the ball back, with Aspas evading Paulista. A silly goal to concede.

The game changed after that, becoming less open and scrappier and with Celta pushing forward more without creating all that much. The referee was also letting too much go and making questionable calls, such as booking Zaza for protesting when we had a reasonable penalty shout. Marcelino made the substitutions, with Soler coming off for Nacho Gil, with Mina replacing Rodrigo soon after.

The game looked to be grinding to a stalemated draw until the 80th minute. Valencia had come back into the game more in the previous five minutes, but had missed a couple. Pereira's cross not connecting with anyone then Montoya's shot from distance being saved. Parejo stepped up to take the penalty and a nervy moment was made worse when it looked like the keeper had saved it, but despite him getting a hand to it, the ball bounced past him into the net. A lucky break that we needed. Celta let frustration get to them after that and were lucky to finish with 11 men. Their defender Mallo cut out one of our attacks with his hand, but the ref ignored that and failed to give him a second yellow.

Still playing short of our best, but I liked how we played for most of the game today and 3 points against a team that drew at Barcelona last game is no mean feat. 2 more games this year and six points must be the target.

Neto 7 - always a safe pair of hands and terrific save from Aspas
Gaya 6 - some good defending and link up play
Vezo 4 - average, more on the weak side, never looked that comfortable
Gabriel 4.5 - disappointing game overall, made a couple of errors that could have cost us
Montoya 5.5 - generally acceptable, but had trouble with Sisto and his crosses missed the target
Pereira 5.5 - not great in the first half with poor decisions, but improved and provided more of a threat in the second part
Parejo 7.5 - makes it all look easy, decent game, passing and recovering well
Kondogbia 6.5 - had a solid game, recovering balls and connecting well with other players
Soler 4.5 - really lacking, exemplified by the first half chance he missed. Not sure what's been up with him recently, but he's been poor. Needs to recover his form
Rodrigo 6 - decent effort, with many nice touches, but had few chances to work with
Zaza 7.5 - excellent game, a threat in attack and always tracking back when needed

Nacho Gil 6 - good game and if he keeps this up, can push for a starting spot in the first team
Mina 5 - failed to inspire, with poor decisions
Maksimovic N/A - 89th minute sub, don't think he even touched the ball

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Copa Draw and some Transfer Rumors

First off, the draw for the Copa del Rey Round of 16 drew Valencia CF against UD Las Palmas, with the first leg away and the second leg at the Mestalla.

Now for the transfer news that I've seen these past few days. There is no doubt that some reinforcements are needed this winter to supplement the squad in the face of injuries and to add some depth.

Fans have been pushing for signing Guedes on a permanent deal for a while now and it looks like negotiations have allegedly placed the transfer few at around 40 million euros (PSG bought him from Benfica for 30 million euros). I think this amount will probably only be affordable if we make the Champions League. This would be even more true if we will (and I think we should) sign Kondogbia as well. I heard that deal is worth about 25 million euros to get him off Inter Milan. Part/all of that was supposed to be covered if they did the same and purchased Cancelo but that doesn't look likely. Also, these deals are normally paid in installments so the 40 and 25 million would not be paid in full right away but over 2-3 years, which helps with Financial Fair Play and general affordability.

In the midst of talks with PSG, rumors arose that Pastore and Moura are two names that are also being looked at to arrive in loan deals. Pastore's agent was quick to shoot down the rumors for his client but Moura still remains a possibility. At the squad, we currently have Perreira, Guedes, Soler and Ibanez who all play similar positions to Moura out on the wings. Bringing him will add another pacy and tricky winger, but will push one of them away. I only see this deal happening if Ibanez gets loaned or Perreira's loan gets cut short (Manchester United seem to want him back but he said he wants to stay).

Finally, with the forward position, it seems the club's efforts are focused on Everton's 22 year old Sandro Ramirez. He does have previous La Liga experience starting out in FC Barcelona and then with Malaga CF. He then was purchased by Everton for 6 million euros - his release clause at the time. He hasn't had many games for Everton but he played pretty well for Malaga and Barcelona for the times that I did watch him. Of course, it would be a loan deal till the end of the season and it seems that a purchase option will be included. It's an interesting player to add and it will increase competition for the forward positions. If he does impress, I think it would be a cheap purchase option since I think Everton would just want to recoup the amount they spent, maybe with a little bonus.

Thoughts on Copa del Rey fixture? Is Guedes worth the 40 million? Is Kondogbia worth the 25 million? Is Moura, a player we need? Is Sandro a good idea? Let us know below. All comments are welcome and appreciated.

The Case of Rafa Mir

For those who don't know, the 20 year old Mestalla B striker's contract expires this summer (June 30) and the club has been in negotiations to renew, however all reports show that the negotiations are at a stumbling block. The club wants to renew but the player is not satisfied. Reports say he feels that the club does not have confidence in him. His points of contention are as follows:
  • He was the last of his peers (Nacho Gil, Nacho Vidal, Sivera and Sito) to be offered a contract
  • He feels the fans are against him since his signing was facilitated by Jorge Mendes. When he came on in the Champions League under coach Nuno, he was the outlet for the fan's anger and it followed him on social media. Insults, criticisms, etc. 
    • In fact, recently when he scored playing for Mestalla B, he celebrated by doing a celebration where he gestured to the crowd to zip their mouths and has been reprimanded for it.
  • Real Madrid's subsidiary is interested in him and he could get a better chance where they do bet on him
We have to remember the player is young and criticism does affect him (we saw Cancelo do something similar). Anyway, it would be a shame to lose him since he is on blazing form (15 goals in 17 games). He is the second top scorer in the Second Division. You might have noticed that he is not training with the first team anymore as well. That's because Marcelino's stance is that the player should solve his contract situation first and then he will let him back in. 

This month would be the crucial month to settle things, as the player is free to negotiate with other clubs on January 1st and would end up leaving for free in the summer. The club is still trying and meetings with his agent are being held this month by Elemany. Hopefully, it will break the deadlock but we'll see.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Getafe CF 1-0 Valencia CF Match Report

Valencia CF's unbeaten streak has finally come to an end in La Liga (13 games) after what was quite a shocking display against Getafe. The talk of surpassing Benitez's record was pushed aside by Marcelino as he made it clear that the focus was results and not equaling record. Well, that clearly wasn't the case as we saw how the game turned out. This was also a key game to win as it was against winnable opposition, we were in good form and most importantly Barcelona had dropped points against Celta Vigo yesterday. A win would've put Valencia 2 points behind Barca and now we find ourselves sitting 5 points behind them. Still an excellent position in the table, but Atletico, Real and Sevilla are hot on our heels now (1, 3 and 3 points behind respectively).

Huge credit for the game has to go to Getafe: they knew our game plan, came up with a counter measure and remained focused the entire game in it's execution. Right from the get go, our players were closed down, pressured and harassed off the ball. They focused mostly on shutting down our key passers in Parejo and Carlos Soler. It seemed that every time Soler got the ball he was tackled instantly and taken to ground. Getafe took charge of the game and eventually put the ball in the net after a cross/shot deflected off one of their players and beat Neto. Fortunately, the goal was correctly ruled out since the player that caused the deflection was in an offside position.

This is when the problem with Getafe's strategy would catch up to them. Their challenges were really aggressive and without restraint. As such it wasn't surprising that within 25 minutes of the game, Getafe's Mauro Arambarri got booked for a rough tackle on Montoya from behind; and having picked up a booking just 4 minutes prior, he was sent off.

At this point, I thought the space would open up for Valencia and Getafe would retreat to their box to defend. Of course, it's not in our advantage since our specialty is counter attacking and not picking apart tight defenses. Getafe, however, maintained their presence and still managed to press our players off the ball quickly. There was a bit more space but the sloppy Valencia that we've seen at times. The bit of space could not be capitalized on with all the sloppy passes and player's slipping. With all the challenges Getafe was commiting to, we did get several free kicks and Parejo hit them very well but Guaita saved them all just as well. These were honestly our best chances. There was one other chance where Pereira got in a good crossing position on the right and almost picked out Rodrigo (similar to the goal against Barcelona) however the Getafe players threw themselves in front of the cross and stopped it.

I had hopes that we would pick things up in the second half as they have in previous games. With the Getafe players going down at every challenge and trying to get our players booked to even the game, Kondogbia who was already booked was withdrawn with Nacho Gil taking his spot. Getafe continued with the same mentality as the first half and had one really good chance. A through ball cut apart our defense and found Angel Rodriguez in plenty of space with only Neto left to stop him. Fortunately again, he took too many touches and barely missed the far post. Then, what happened in the first half, repeated itself. A shot from outside the box from Bergara deflected, this time off a Valencia player and beat Neto. After the lead, Getafe moved to protect their lead and played off the counter.

A lot of the time it felt like Valencia were the ones playing with a man down. We also started getting impatient and rushing everything. Crosses were put in from really far out when there was room to get closer. A corner routine from Parejo found Soler in plenty of space but the shot went into orbit (difficult shot to take but still good chance). That's when Parejo started doing these overhead passes instead of the patient ground passes. The Getafe defense found these very easy and easily reclaimed possession every time.

Pereira was taken off and Santi Mina brought on for the last 27 minutes, however without much success. The last minutes of the game featured many Valencia efforts, crosses, and shots. All sloppy, rushed or ended with poor execution. It just wasn't our day. We ended up with 65% possession but nothing to show for it. We went against 10 men for 65 minutes but couldn't take advantage and ended up conceding.

Honestly, the passing and shots in the past few games has been getting a little bit sloppy and maybe this is a wakeup call so we don't fall asleep. This game also showed that we don't really have players we can call for off the bench to change the game or offers much difference to what is already there on the field. Sure, we were missing Guedes but that's not really an excuse. Zaza will be unavailable when they decide to go through with his operation. We need a backup plan both in players and tactics. I have no doubt that Marcelino will call them out on everything and get them back up to the level we've seen earlier in the season.

As for ratings, honestly only Parejo and Zaza had any notable significance but even then sometimes were sloppy. The other players played at a considerable lower level than what they are capable of playing. We have 3 games left: Celta Vigo (Home), Eibar (Away) and Villareal (Home) before the winter break and transfer market opens. Are they winnable? Yes for sure. Should we expect a win? Not after today, we shouldn't let our guard down regardless of opposition. You never when they could surprise us. Celta will be on a high especially after taking points off Barca. It should be a good game at home and should be great to watch. Barca could slip up at any time and we need to be getting these points whenever we can. While we're in form, we could cause trouble for any team and every game is winnable. Let's hope this is just a minor slip and look forward to a great result against Celta!

Please let us know what you thought of the game? Credit for Getafe or bad play by Valencia? Or both? What went wrong? What to fix? Any players did well or poorly? Your comments are always welcome and appreciated! Thanks!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Guedes, Kondogbia and the Copa del Rey

A few rumours swirling around regarding possible future transfers, as usual treat these with healthy scepticism until anything is confirmed.

Peter Lim was in Valencia for the Barcelona game and is in Paris this week to try to prolong Guedes' stay. Superdeporte claim that Lim is aiming to sign Guedes permanently rather than on loan. This looks hugely unlikely, but his good relations with the PSG owner and their Financial Fair Play issues turn it from an impossibility into a very low chance.

Less positively, El Gol Digital claims that Valencia will buy Kondogbia then give him to PSG in part-exchange for Guedes. While that story is almost certainly journalistic creativity at best, it wouldn't be a good move. Guedes is a great player, but Kondogbia is the backbone of the Valencia team and he must be the priority. So, rather more likely, Plazadeportiva, usually a more reliable source, weighs in with better news. It claims that Alemany had wanted to pay 18m for Kondogbia. Inter wanted at least 30m. So a compromise was struck for 25m with Inter getting 20% of any sell-on. Crucially, Alemany negotiated a convenient payment structure: Valencia will pay 7m next July and 6m in July of the three years after that. That would be a very nice deal. 25m next summer would affect our ability to bring in other reinforcements, especially since we will have to pay the final instalment of 8m for Zaza. 7m is doable.

Related to all this is the situation of Cancelo, who isn't playing much at Inter, who have a 32m buy option on him. (Presumably this would also be paid to us over 4 years.) COPE claim that Valencia are considering bringing the player back in January, so that he won't lose value, as Inter are unlikely to buy him given that he's only played a minor role for them so far. This is possible, but dubious, as it's hard to see where he'd fit in. He was never that great as a right back and, even though Marcelino seems to have doubts about Montoya and Nacho Vidal, Cancelo wouldn't represent a massive improvement (Montoya did better in that position last season.)
Valencia played Zaragoza in the second leg of the Copa Del Rey. Despite being 2-0 up from the first leg, which Zaragoza hadn't taken seriously either, Marcelino played it fairly safe, maybe noticing that Bilbao and Sociedad had both screwed up through complacency and had been eliminated by third level opposition the previous night.

Nacho Gil, Vezo and Maksimovich all got their first starts since the Copa first leg game. Playing both Paulista and Vezo, despite the increasing lack of central defenders and Zaza, despite his knee issues, seemed a bit of a risk, but the team came through it without problems.

Valencia dominated the game, but it took until the 29th minute to make the breakthrough. Mina blocked an attempted clearance and got the bounce in his favour and passed to Zaza, who returned it well for Mina to find the bottom corner.

In the second half, Zaza came close in the 52nd minute, intercepting after a Zaragoza defender was daydreaming, rounding the keeper but unable to finish from a narrow angle. 6 minutes later, he was involved, taking the ball on the right and, when his shot was saved, Mina followed up for his second of the game.

Valencia brought on Soler and Robert for Parejo and Pereira. Robert appeared for the first time in three years and marked it with a goal. Zaza was involved as usual, putting a nice short pass through. Robert still had a bit to do, but managed to shake off two defenders to cut inside and score.

Ferran Torres made his Valencia debut in the 70th minute and marked his debut with an assist, his corner resulting in a rare Ruben Vezo goal. The only negative came a minute later, Nacho Vidal losing his man, who got between him and Paulista to score a consolation. An easy win to take us through 6-1 on aggregate.

In terms of players, Jaume and the defence had little to do. Nacho Vidal didn't help his cause, as he should have done more to prevent their goal.

In midfield, Parejo was Parejo, decent passes but also some lapses. Maksimovich continues to look like a handy back-up player. Pereira has ability but needs to tame his greediness. Nacho Gil could have done better. Robert did well and the few touches from Ferran Torres were good but not enough to form an opinion.

Zaza would be man of the match and, happily, no trouble from the knee was obvious. Mina would be a close second, taking his goals well and continuing to enjoy a good season.

Not sure what it is with us doing much better in the second half but if it produces results, fine.

With Betis joining the list of top flight sides who slipped up, there will be two Segunda clubs and two Segunda B clubs in the last 16 draw, which will take place on Tuesday 5 December. The games will be played on 3 and 10 January.

If you've read this, comments would be appreciated. I'm happy to post news articles, but it's a bit demotivating if no one comments!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Referees, news and transfers

In the post-match period after Barcelona, the talk, disappointingly, has been focused on the refereeing decision. It's a shame this has overshadowed what was actually a decent second half performance from Valencia. We turned the tables on them in the second half, surprised them and nearly won. The crying about the referee from their fans is actually pretty grating, given the previous two league games at Mestalla. Last year, Messi scored while Suarez was clearly offside and interfering. He even jumped over the ball to let it go under him. Barca won 3-2 due to a last minute penalty.

2015, a similar story. Suarez was offside when he scored their only goal in a 1-1 result.

Suarez' reaction to the ghost goal the other night was apparently to call the linesman "a shit" and "a fucking midget." Two wrongs don't make a right and Rodrigo was sent off for less a couple of seasons ago.

I don't remember the same outcry those times from a media which all too often loves to fawn over Barcelona. People will argue forever about whether the Spanish or English top flights are better, but the standard of refereeing in England is unquestionably superior and is something that La Liga desperately needs to improve.

Now that the game is out of the way, the focus has shifted to strengthening the squad, which is beginning to show its first signs of wear and tear. Guedes suffered a broken toe *before* the Barcelona game and is out for 4 weeks. He might be back for the Villarreal game, but that's 50/50 and he'd probably only be a sub. Zaza will likely need a knee operation sooner rather than later and that will result in 5-6 weeks out. Murillo is out until late January and Garay will miss at least the next game at Getafe. With Jimenez also out to a long term injury, defence, which looked the best covered position now has to make do with Vezo and Paulista with a Mestalla player as a cover. Ivan Marquez is one possibility, with Zotko another and this week's Copa game will allow the coach to assess alternatives.

Peter Lim has been in Valencia discussing future transfer options (he will also go to Paris to try to prolong Guedes' loan.) The two main positions that the club are looking to fill is a forward, with Sandro the favourite and a cover for Kondogbia. Third priority was a right back, as Marcelino hasn't been totally convinced by either Montoya or Nacho Vidal, which I think is a shame, since any signing will hamper Vidal's progress. The possibility of a central defender has now entered the agenda, while the club remains open to adding a winger.

The club today announced the winter departure of Fabian Orellana. Eibar will pay 400,000 to take him on loan until Summer and will then have to pay another 1.8m to compulsorily buy him if they avoid relegation. Orellana got off to a great start at Valencia, but after the first 3 games it all went downhill and despite a good preseason, Marcelino remained unconvinced.

Lastly, the club is negotiating a contract extension with Dani Parejo. His contract expires in June 2020 and the club is looking to extend that to June 2021, with the club having the option of adding a further year as Parejo would be 32 when that expires. I can't see the point in this, really. He's having a decent season, but what's the rush? Wouldn't it be best to wait until the end of next year and then start talking?

The club has a relatively easy schedule in December. Getafe away, Celta home, Eibar away then the toughest game, Villarreal at home. However, progress in the Copa would require the team to play every midweek in January and that will need a deeper squad.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Valencia CF 1-1 FC Barcelona Match Report

Valencia CF played their toughest opponent this season and got away unscathed, managing to get a draw against an inform Barcelona side who came to the Mestalla to win and almost managed to do so with a first half goal that luckily for us went unseen by the referees and wasn't awarded.

Valencia CF had been slacking somewhat before this match and even though the team had won all the previous matches with comfortable results, the play had not been all that great, especially in the first half, before we'd improve and win the game. As such this match was a worry, all of us wondering which Valencia CF is going to show up and we got our answer. In the first half the lackluster Valencia CF showed up that did the essentials like defending good and covering the spaces well, but not really playing football and then in the second half we got the solid and much more confident Vaelcncia CF that did cause FC Barcelona problems and managed to score a goal to take the lead with a wonderful counter attacking move.

What the first half boiled down was essentially Valencia CF being pushed deep back into their own half with Barcelona relentlessly attacking and trying to create a chance and Valencia CF focused 100% on defending and nothing else. This approach could have cost Valencia CF, since FC Barcelona did technically score a goal that was essentially not seen by the referees and the play went on.

Truth be told apart from the goal that Barcelona scored, but shouldn't have as Neto did make a blunder out of it was the only serious chance they had and they never looked likely to score again.

In the second half Valencia CF showed up to compete and were a lot more imposing, keeping the ball for longer in their possession and going forward and attacking, while also pressuring higher up the pitch and causing Barcelona more problems, forcing them into errors and causing them to lose the ball often.

Thanks to this improved play Valencia CF were able to create few chances for themselves with Guedes and Rodrigo having smaller opportunities, but nothing major, no clear cut shoots at goal, that is until the 60th minute when Guedes passes a sort of through ball to Gaya who's cross found Rodrigo Moreno and he masterfully slotted the ball past the keeper and into the net. It was a fantastic chance and a great goal, especially since Moreno hasn't celebrated himself with his finishing, so being able to slot the ball into the net on this occasion was great.

Valencia CF pressed forward even more with their newfound morale and confidence boost, creating few chances in a row just after that, but nothing came out of it. Slowly FC Barcelona started taking back control of the match and by the 75th minute they were in the driving seat again and trying to find an equalizer. Unfortunately for Valencia CF they weren't able to withstand the barrage of attacks and a creative pass by Lionel Messi found its way to Jordi Alba who scored to equalize the score.

Both teams had smaller chances to score once again by the end, but neither team took their opportunities and ultimately the match finished 1-1, which I think is the fairest result, even with the ghost goal for Barca. Valencia CF have been on the receiving end of the spectrum countless of times and have unjustly lost matches against Barcelona due to refereeing "errors", strangely its never been an issue when Barcelona were the beneficiaries of refereeing calls, but now all of a sudden its a huge deal that Barcelona are on the opposing end of it?

Overall it was a poor first half and a more usual and better second half from Valencia CF, but there is clearly much room for improvement and there needs to be more intensity and more drive in the first half, we should be looking to win and play good football from the start. The team is still undefeated having played all of its toughest rivals and is still only 4 points off of Barcelona. I mean we are going to lose at some point, but I hope its not soon and that we can ride this wave for a long long time.

Player Ratings:
Neto 4 - First match to have a blunder that could have costed Valencia CF dearly, hopefully it doesn't affect him and he goes back to his best for the next matches.
Montoya 5.5 - Not the best defensive display, but considering he was pressured consistently for most of the match did well enough.
Garay 6 - Had a good showing, covered well in the back and was a physical presence in the penalty area against Suarez and Messi.
Gabriel 6 - Similar performance as Garay, was generally secure in his marking and tackles and didn't make any notable mistakes.
Gaya 7 - Good defensive showing, managed to deal with what Barca had to throw at him and provided the assist for our goal.
Soler 5.5 - Solid defensive contributions, covered a lot of ground and provided plenty of support for the defense, but was quite ineffective going forward even in the second half.
Kondogbia 7 - Solid defensively, solid offensively, good passing, good positioning and has been one of our key players this season.
Parejo 6.5 - Is becoming more and more the defensive powerhouse with a lot of interceptions and good defensive positioning. Needs to release the ball sooner as he could have been caught in possession several times and cause a huge problem for us.
Guedes 6.5 - Pretty anonymous in the first half as everyone, but was one of the most active players in terms of attack in the second half, most of the movement and actions coming from him.
Zaza 6 - Tried to help the team every way possible, including a lot of defensive marking and falling back often, his offensive threat was limited though as VCF mostly operated thought counter attacks.
Rodrigo 7 - Probably our most threatening player on the field for the whole match, doesn't always make the best decision, but caused Barcelona lots of problems and scored a masterful goal with good positioning, awareness and shooting accuracy.
Pereira N/A - not enough time
Vezo N/A - not enough time
Mina N/A - not enough time

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Valencia CF vs FC Barcelona Match Preview

Valencia CF, FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are the only clubs in the Spanish primera division that haven't lost a single game, with Valencia CF drawing 3 games, while Barcelona only one. Last match was an intense one for Valencia CF with the team starting rather slowly after the two week international break, but soon found its rhythm in the second half, playing much better football and punishing Espanyol for their lackluster finishing in the first half.

Valencia CF is on its best start in history, with several record broken already and several others that are just waiting to be broken. The team hasn't always played amazing football, but the ability to win games even when not playing great, to grind games to a win is a sign of a championship material team. Games where Valencia CF would have drawn or lost in the last minute in the past 3-4 season and now won and in many cases won in style as well.

FC Barcelona has been in amazing form this season as well, after a super slow preseason start that seemed like FC Barcelona are way past their prime and that the team would struggle, especially after the sale of Neymar to PSG for a record 220 million euros fee, they've only went from strength to strength, as such FC Barcelona is going to be the biggest obstacle Valencia CF have faced this season and in the past several seasons as well. We've not had a team play in such good form in the last several years in Spain, its been more competitive.

Both teams are undefeated and in great form, so this match is a classic and everyone should see it. Even casual viewers of football should watch this game as its likely to be a classic to remember. Both Valencia CF and FC Barcelona have scored a lot of goals, in fact between these two teams they've scored 65 goals, with FC Barcelona besting Valencia CF by only 1 goal. That said they've only conceded 4 goals, while Valencia CF have conceded 11 goals, but numbers don't always tell the whole story and FC Barcelona dense hasn't been that impeccable. They've had luck in their defending, just the same as Valecnia's luck against Espanyol, when Valencia CF could have easily conceded two goals in the first half, making that match a lost cause. So with that said FC Barcelona are not invincible at the back, and they will be weakened by the absence of Pique.

As good as Valencia CF have been and as great our position on the table is, the team would need to up their game if they are to succeed against Barcelona. 3 of the last 5 matches have been on the weaker side of things, winning, but winning unconvincingly and the team would need to rediscover their best form, Soler and Guedes would need to be at their best in order to win against FC Barcelona, especially one that is riding fast and high.