Saturday, March 17, 2018

Valencia 3-1 Alaves

Leading up to this game there were a few worries that Valencia might take their foot off the pedal a bit, after securing an 11-point lead over Sevilla last weekend. On the contrary, the team produced an excellent display, including a first half that's a contender for the best of this season. Blowing Alaves away with a terrific display of football.

There were no surprises in the line-up, with Mina injured, it's Zaza and Rodrigo up front, the usual midfield four, Gaya, Garay and Gabriel ever present and Montoya returning at right back.

Some people may have expected Murillo to partner Garay instead, but it's clear that Marcelino counts on Gabriel. Only Parejo has started more games for us this season and since the start of November, Gabriel has only missed one league game for which he's been available.

The players came out wearing t-shirts in honour of Coquelin, whose injury means he may be out for 5 or 6 months. It was a nice show of support from them.

Valencia quickly took control of the game and pressed Alaves hard. After the opening 10 minutes, during which we were generally feeling out their defence, we nearly fell behind. Parejo lost the ball in the middle and the resulting centre produced a great save from Neto from a diving header. After that wake up call, Valencia really stepped up. Pacheco had to produce a super save to rival Neto's after a move finished with Parejo hitting a strong shot. A few minutes later he couldn't do anything to stop us going ahead. Parejo found Rodrigo and the link up and one-two he produced with Zaza was great to watch. Great assist from Zaza and confident finish.

Alaves couldn't do a lot after that. They crossed the halfway line a few times, but were quickly dispossessed and subjected to another of the waves of Valencia attacks. Garay just headed wide from a corner. Guedes shot just over then was involved in a good move, picking up the runs of Soler and Montoya in space, but miscommunication resulted in them getting in each other's way. Zaza then added the second, sending a good cross from a free kick from Parejo past the keeper.

Valencia finished the half on top, but were unable to add the killer third. Just before the half ended Guedes controlled well and hit one of his trademark strong shots from outside the area. The keeper saved it, then brought down Soler who had been quickest to follow up, but the referee fluffed it, waving away appeals for a clear penalty.

Garay had picked up an injury and was subbed for Murillo at half time. To their credit Valencia came out in the second half not happy to sit back, continuing to push for the third goal. It nearly proved costly as Alaves pulled one back. Gaya misjudged a long ball and the defence were stretched with the pull back allowing Sobrino to fire home. Kondogbia, having a great game as ever, had a chance shortly after, using his strength to create space for himself, but then shooting well over after doing the hard part. Alaves had another dangerous counter attack soon after that, finding themselves 2 attackers versus 2 defenders, but failed to convert.

After that nervy start to the second period, Valencia put the game to bed. Guedes found Soler in space on the right and he crossed towards the lurking Rodrigo, resulting in the Alaves defender putting the ball in his own net. The fourth just didn't come, despite the team trying. Guedes put an excellent cross to Zaza at the back post but the defender managed to get there first. Alaves were forced to rely on an uncharacteristic mistake for their second chance. Neto mishit a pass, but Sobrino's attempted chip was just off target.

Montoya came close to adding a fourth late on, trying to surprise Pacheco with a strong shot and hitting it well, but the keeper produced a good save. Rodrigo and Parejo were subbed off towards the end, presumably to keep them fresher for possible international duty and the game ended with a comfortable and confident win. Alaves weren't bad, but we were far superior and should have won by more.

Overall, Coquelin's injury has been the only negative this week. Parejo finally gets called up to the Spain squad and hopefully he and Rodrigo can produce the goods for them next weekend. Sevilla qualifying for the Champions league quarter finals is bad in that it gives a rival more cash, but it also gives them two more games to distract them. Similarly, Valencia stand to receive 5 million from the Andre Gomes transfer if Barcelona win the Champs league. Fourth place looks locked in now, so the team's targets are probably pipping Real Madrid for third and beating the record total of 77 points achieved under Benitez in 2004 and Nuno in 2015.

Neto 7 - solid performance, handling everything well, with the only blot being the mistaken pass, which could have led to a second
Montoya 7 - decent and confident performance in both defence and attack. I'd like to see Marcelino stick with him for the rest of the season for this position as it isn't good for Soler to constantly have different faces behind him on that side.
Garay 6 - didn't have to do much in the first half, hopefully the injury isn't serious
Gabriel 6.5 - did well for most of the match and passed well from the back
Gaya 6.5 - reasonable performance, assisting in attack as well, though was at fault for their goal
Soler 7.5 - really good day, linking up well with Parejo, Guedes and Rodrigo in several attacks
Parejo 7.5 - confident and assured performance, with involvement in both goals
Kondogbia 8.5 - a rock as ever, good with the recoveries, calm under pressure and nice passing
Guedes 8 - strong game, with constant involvement in the attack. Maybe tries to do too much at times. Will be a big loss at the end of the season if he's not signed and that still looks unlikely for cost reasons.
Zaza 8 - best game of 2018 so far. All the negatives that we've thrown at him in recent months were absent today. No silly diving or dissent. Accurate passes, good work rate and movement off the ball. Needs to maintain this.
Rodrigo 9 - has hit a brilliant run of form. Was a constant threat and key link up player between the midfield and attack and his growing confidence was plain to see.

Murillo 6 - positioning was questionable for the goal conceded, but did his job otherwise
Vietto 4.5 - disappointingly invisible and it's clear that he's on his way back to Madrid in a couple of months
Maksimovic - not enough time, but may get more minutes now due to Coquelin's absence

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Sevilla FC 0-2 Valencia CF Match Report

A great and well deserved away win. Also, a very rare win at the Ramón-Sánchez-Pizjuán. The scoreline may not have done justice to how competitive the game actually was but Valencia was more efficient and walked out with a win. The earlier fixture at Mestalla ended 4-0 and was complete dominance. Altogether a 6-0 win over both games against one of our rivals. This was a 6 point game and Valencia stepped up to the occasion. This takes us back to 1 point behind Real Madrid and now 11 points ahead of Sevilla. That's a 4 game cushion, with 10 games to go in the season.


With Santi Mina injured, Marcelino started Rodrigo and Zaza, both of whom scored last game against Real Betis. With Vietto's purchase option recently rejected by Valencia, I don't know how much Marcelino will use him, maybe as a late game sub.

In the middle of the park, Guedes, Kondogbia and Parejo return after a great last game, alongside Coquelin on the right side of midfield over Soler. I don't know why Marcelino opted for Coquelin over Soler but I would guess that he wanted to reward Coquelin's performances by starting him or to support the vulnerable right-back position.

In defense, Garay returned to the pitch after recovering from his injury, alongside Murillo in the center. Gaya started on the left, whereas Marcelino opted for Paulista over Montoya, Nacho Vidal and Vezo in right-back. This was a bit strange. My guess for this was that he wanted Gaya to be able to go forward freely and shift to a back 3 when he does get forward, but Paulista was also making runs forward. Goalkeeping was unchanged, with Neto still in form.


The match started in typical fashion, especially for an away game. Sevilla pressed hard and to good effect won the ball back and got forward. They were clearly out to get Paulista and just hammered the right side of our defense. A few early advances into the box were stopped by Gaya.

Sevilla's first shot came from Nolito, at around the 20th minute on the right, who won the aerial battle against Paulista and Garay and took a shot at the far post but was saved by Neto.

A few minutes afterwards, Kondogbia had possession in midfield and picked out a great run from Rodrigo behind the left-back, Escudero, with an magnificent lob forward. Escudero paid more attention to the ball and Rodrigo took his chance and ran around him to get into a 1 and 1 position. He remained composed, faked Sergio Rico out with some footwork and slotted it past him on the right to score. Again, when Rodrigo remains composed and uses his head he produces real quality. I heard that Escudero was complaining about the sun in his eyes and blamed it for the goal but it doesn't take anything away from Rodrigo's quality.

Another great chance for Sevilla came at the 31st minute. The left-back, Nayun, made a run forward and sent a low cross towards the near post where it was met by Sarabia at close distance to goal. He took it first time but Neto produced a great reflex save to deny him. He's reflexes have certainly improved over the past few games, well done!

The next few minutes involved some back and forth, with Coquelin snuffing a shot after missing the ball in the Sevilla box and on the other end a Sevilla attack for the right was stopped as Gaya denied the incoming cross. He's done a lot of those clearances on the ground as well as aerial clearances with his head.

Sevilla would get another great chance in the 41st minute. Murillo made a run on the left and took a touch past Paulista and another past Murillo and fired from the edge of the box to hid the top frame of the goal. Neto scrambled quickly and claimed the loose ball. Nolito and Murillo were having a field day with Paulista, I don't recall him stopping a single run or cross into the box from his side.

Valencia would get one half-chance towards the end of the half with Rodrigo starting a run from deeper in midfield and finding Zaza's run who's shot just zoomed past on the wrong side of goal.

Sevilla's dominance in terms of possession and chances created would continue in the second half, with Banega firing a powerful shot from distance which forced a punch away from Neto at first to take out the power and then claim the ball.

A few minutes later, a miscommunication between Coquelin and Kondogbia resulted in a loose pass from the former and possession went to Sevilla at the edge of the box but they fired wide.

Again, another Sevilla chance, this time from a free kick on the right. Sarabia took it and found Lenglet who made contact and produced a shot only to be denied again by Neto from close range.

Valencia would get a rare chance in this as Kondogbia ran forward in midfield and found Rodrigo in an advanced position after the defender slid in and missed the ball. Rodrigo took the shot on the turn and hit the target forcing a save from Sergio Rico. Good effort, as long as the shots hit the target it's a good shot.

A few minutes later, Rodrigo with another chance at the edge of the box on the right, ignored the overlapping run forward from Coquelin and cut inside to the opposite edge and took a shot forcing another save.

Sevilla was clearly dominating the midfield as they had more players than we did there. They opted to introduce Correa and Ben Yedder to add an attacking presence. Meanwhile, Marcelino responded by bringing on Soler for Zaza to play on the right, while Coquelin would join Parejo and Kondogbia in the center.

A while after the change, Rodrigo would start the run from midfield and send a through ball for Guedes who's shot was blocked by a sliding challenge from the defender.

Valencia would go 2-0 ahead with same combination as the first goal. Kondogbia managed to retain possession amidst high pressure from Sevilla, ran past a few defenders and sent a precise through ball for Rodrigo who would find himself in a 1 on 1 again. He looks over his shoulder, realizes he has time and fakes out Sergio Rico again and scores at the far-side.

With that goal, Sevilla lost all motivation and were turned down the effort. They conserved their energy and might have just started looking forward towards their Champions League fixture against Manchester United instead. Marcelino would bring on Ferran Torres to replace Kondogbia who suffered from some discomfort. Gaya would be given a rest as well as Lato came on to replace him and see out the final minutes of the game.


1-0 Rodrigo (25'), assisted by Kondogbia
2-0 Rodrigo (68'), assisted by Kondogbia


Neto 9 - his performances have improved a lot over the past few games. He is now looking more like himself and the Neto we saw in the first part of the season. He's more active, has better reflexes and saved us on multiple occasions from Sevilla's shots.
Gaya 9 - the amount of times he cleared the ball, stopped the cross or won the ball back forced Sevilla even more towards Paulista's side. Was very valuable in defense today.
Murillo 8 - solid performance, was certainly helped by having Gaya screen all the Sevilla efforts from the right.
Garay 6 - decent first day back, I think his job was made a lot harder by the vulnerability of the right-back position. He almost always had to run across and cover for it but was beaten too at times. He needs a bit more time to get back to the flow of the game.
Paulista 3 - he doesn't belong in the right-back position. I'm all for experimenting something new but he just got ran over today. Nolito and Muriel were having a field day with him and he barely stopped anything. His Muriel's shot in the 41st minute was to try to block it with his body instead of getting close and denying him space for the shot. Looked really vulnerable all game. Almost all their efforts came from his side.
Coquelin 6 - decent performance. Often had to help out his teammates in the middle to deal with being outnumbered. Going forward didn't do much but was useful in defense.
Parejo 6 - was outnumbered in midfield and overshadowed by Kondogbia. Mixed game for him, sometimes he would win the ball back and get forward, others he would be invisible.
Kondogbia 9 - despite being outnumbered, he stood out in midfield. A complete midfielder, he participated in almost everything. Great passes, dribbling, challenges, and decision-making. Set-up our two goals with wonderful passes and is yet again a real difference maker.
Guedes 6.5 - he had a few runs on goal where he took the shot but was blocked or went wide. Sometimes, it would've been better to pick out a pass.
Zaza 6 - didn't have many real chances, only half chances but didn't hit the target. He did contribute and showed work ethic by running back and helping out the defense. Held up the ball well at times.
Rodrigo 10 - a comprehensive performance. Not only did he take the two chances he had with such composure, he created space for himself and others several times. He would also participate in the build-up more often, running the ball forward from deeper in midfield. He overtook Santi Mina as top scorer and looks to be at his best form, clearly with an eye on the Spanish National Team positions.


Soler 7 - got involved as much as he could and helped out a struggling midfield re-establish control.
Ferran Torres N/A
Lato N/A 


Despite Sevilla having the majority of chances and possession, Valencia played the counter-attacking tactic to good effect. The team absorbed the pressure and attacks and did well to capitalize on the few chances we had. The Sevilla dominance was in my opinion due to a weak and vulnerable right-side. Paulista just doesn't do as a right-back, he's not in his preferred position, it's understandable. Which begs the question again? How much trust does Marcelino have in the rest of the right-back candidates to prefer Paulista over them? This has been the most rotated position and Marcelino seems unsatisfied with all available options. I think this just reaffirms our need for a reliable right-back. Montoya would be decent as a rotation or if he's lost trust as well, then we could need 2 right-backs.

The other negatives are uncertainty still in terms of the last few minutes for Kondogbia when he walked out with discomfort. We do have cover for him, in the form of Coquelin who has done well when given the chance, but still it would be unfortunate to lose him to injury.

There were also many positives. Rodrigo seems to have found his best form and if he continues like this he could very well make it to the World Cup which would be good for everyone. It would raise his confidence, get him some valuable experience with the best players in the world and raise his valuation. If he can maintain this for an extended period, he can go on to justifying his price tag.

Other great performances were Neto would saved us from the Sevilla efforts that did make it to goal, as well as Gaya and Murillo would helped him out many a time in defense. Kondogbia, as usual, also put it a stellar performances, setting up both goals. The first goal set-up was very similar to the one he set-up for Guedes against Sevilla in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.

This leaves us unbeaten against the 3 Andalusian sides in the league both home and away this season. It was also a great win over both fixtures (6-0) over an annoying rival over the years and a rare win in their stadium. With 10 games to go and a 4 game lead (11 points) over them, we have a great chance to qualify. We could even finish higher up than 4th place since we are hot on the trail of the teams above us who have tighter schedules.

The next game is next week Saturday at Mestalla against Alaves. If we fix up the right-back situation and play as well as we have in the past few games, we should win. Hopefully, we proceed with the same humility and hunger and achieve another great result.

As usual, please let us know what you thought about the game in the comments. Is Rodrigo beginning to justify his price tag? Is this his best form? How did Paulista do as right-back? Have all our current right-backs lost trust? Who impressed? Who disappointed? All comments, thoughts, and opinions are welcome. Amunt!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Valencia CF 2-0 Real Betis Match Report

A convincing home win for Valencia after a few uncertain games. The team displayed great attitude from the beginning of the game and stuck with it all the way though props to them. This extends it to 4 games unbeaten which hopefully we can carry forward next week. Also a rare clean sheet after a long string of games with goals conceded. Last one was away against Espanyol, 15 league games ago. We are also 8 points ahead of Sevilla below us and 1 point behind Real Madrid above us which is pretty secure for now ahead of next week's game against Sevilla. Both are still in the Champions League so hopefully we can capitalize on their heavier schedules.


This is the first time in a really long while where we had no players on the injury list although Mareclino opted to leave out the most recent returns, Garay and Pereira, from the squad to ensure they are fully fit to play. Marcelino started with our strongest midfield with Guedes and Soler out on either side of the core formed by Kondogbia and Parejo. This has been the most effective midfield and it would prove so again. In defense, it remained unchanged from last game with the exception of Montoya replacing Vezo. This defensive line could get even stronger when Garay rejoins Murillo to form the partnership that was reliable and effective for us in the first half of the season. The front featured the most in form strikers, Rodrigo alongside Santi Mina who became our top scorer in the league last game.


The game started very even in the first few minutes with both sides still getting into the game. However, it was clear from the get go that Valencia was going to press the opposition hard even in their own half. This made it really hard for Betis to play from the back. The execution of this tactic was done really well especially by Kondogbia in midfield who would win almost all aerial battles from the resulting long clearances, as well as by dispossessing players all over using his strength. Betis still had a slight possession advantage early on but that's to be expected playing a counter-attacking style. Plus, they really could do nothing with their possession. 

Our break would come 22 minutes into the half. The Betis defender made a run forward to start an attack on the right side (Neto's left) before a pass was intercepted by Gaya. He then picked out Guedes who took a few touches had a look up and played a long curling ball from the edge of our third. The trajectory of the ball fooled the Betis right-back sending him the wrong way. Rodrigo got the ball, took a gentle touch leaving Bartra in the dust, and ran with the ball to the opposite side and curled the ball past Adan. The pass itself was delightful, but coupled with Rodrigo's touch and great finish, it was altogether something else. 

The lead in possession from Betis would extend but one effort they had on target was an easy one for Neto to save. Unfortunately, Santi Mina would pick up an injury under no challenge, so the injury list is not empty anymore. He would be replaced by Zaza who would prove useful from the get-go with the pressing game fitting his style. 

Early in the second half, a Valencia attack started by Soler, found Rodrigo out on the right wing. His cross would bounce off a defender, Parejo tried to get the rebound but couldn't and possession returned to Betis. But not for long, as Kondogbia chased him down and won the ball back with his strength. As if that wasn't enough, he then carries the ball forward, looks up, send a precise lob to find Zaza in space. Zaza controls the ball well with his left foot and finishes with a low powerful shot between Adan's feet. He celebrated quietly and gestures mocking the critics. It was the first time, he's scored in the league since the Alaves game, 17 games ago. Hopefully, this boosts his confidence and we see the return of the hot form he was on in the first part of the season.

It was after that second goal that I felt the referee lost control of the game. I mean there was the yellow card on Montoya which shouldn't really have been in the first half but the second half was just horrible. Barragan who had been going for hard challenges on our players and who had already been booked for a hard challenge on Guedes in the first half, showed no sign of restraint. He kept up these challenges and I'm surprised he finished the game without being sent off. There was also a couple of shouts for a penalty from our end as Rodrigo had his shirt pulled in the box, and Zaza was straight up shoved over in the box when they had made runs into space. Those went unpunished. Gaya who had been lightly pulled made the most of it and fell in the penalty box but the referee didn't book him for diving. The biggest shout though was for the Betis disallowed goal due to push in the box. I got to say the push wasn't that significant, and unless I missed something else, it should've counted. 

Betis would have one more really good chance with a back heel effort that was denied by Neto. Valencia managed to see out the rest of the game without too much trouble. For added measures, Coquelin replaced Soler to shore up the midfield and defense and could've scored one of his own as soon as coming on. Ferran Torres was also given a run out on the field in the last 10 minutes or so, replacing Rodrigo.


1-0 Rodrigo (23')
2-0 Zaza (47')


Neto 7 - wasn't really troubled at all by the Betis efforts in the first half. Nice reflex save on the Betis back-heel effort in the second half. He came out of his area a few times to claim crosses and loose balls, but on the Betis disallowed goal, where he should've come out and claimed the ball, he just stood still.
Montoya 7 - one of his better games, he wasn't troubled all too much,
Paulista 7.5 - great defensive work ethic, helped out his teammates on many occasions.
Murillo 6.5  - I still don't think he's back to his best form, it was a long injury. He's getting there but still had a few shaky moments.
Gaya 6 - mixed game, was great and times and poor at others. Won the ball back in the lead-up to the first goal but most of Betis's dangerous crosses came from his side. Going forward his crosses were lacking. 
Parejo 7.5 - good composed passing, controlled possession and did well to press and win the ball back at times. He was definitely helped by being partnered with Kondogbia. As captain, he did well to give Zaza a talk and calm him down after he got booked. 
Kondogbia 10 - I am so glad we get 15 million plus this guy for Cancelo. Whoever is responsible for that deal, should get a raise. What a game he had, he was everywhere, dispossessing player to win the ball back and starting a counter play, winning aerial battles. Not to mention a great assist for Zaza's goal.
Soler 7.5 - great job controlling the ball every time it lands at his feet. Makes the right decisions, almost always and rarely misplaces anything.
Guedes 9 - delightful to watch, he has a great touch, takes on players with ease and composure. Set up Rodrigo's goal beautifully with a curling long ball. The added creativity to the lineup from his and Soler's presences are what makes this midfield one of our greatest assets. I really hope he stays. 
Mina - N/A - injured, hope he recovers soon.
Rodrigo 8 - great goal. He did well to not only control the ball well, but brush off Bartra with ease and maintained his composure to deliver a great finish. The best version of Rodrigo is the composed Rodrigo.

Zaza 8 - good to have him back on the score-sheet. Did well to control the pass from Kondogbia and finish with composure. The pressing style works well with him who naturally does it anyway. Also did well to maintain a controlled aggression, although Parejo may have helped calm him down which is important for him.
Coquelin 7 - having been on for only a few minutes, he manages to get into space and hit a great low shot to the far post and it took a great save to deny him.
Ferran N/A - not enough time.


Great, much needed win to not only distance ourselves from rivals but catch up to others. It may have helped restore confidence to Zaza who really needed it. It's a shame that Mina is out injured but hopefully the other strikers have built up enough confidence for next week's game against Sevilla. 

Great performances from everyone all around, but stellar performances from Kondogbia and Guedes. It seems Marcelino has got the best out of both of them. Kondogbia especially, this game was outstanding and really did everything but score. They are also both really young and have potential to grow further which is really exciting. They have really helped shape our team and definitely added a lot and I think everyone would love to seem them join permanently. Although Kondogbia's deal is all but certain, Guedes is still an uncertainty, simply because of price tag. Hopefully, a strong finish to the season with Champions League qualifications as well as a few sales from loaned players can facilitate this. 

All in all, it was a complete performance. There was some questionable refereeing in the second half for both sides and every side will plead this case but the win was absolutely deserved. If we play like this in next week's away game to Sevilla, I have no doubt we will win. They do have a tough Champions League fixture midweek plus have looked far from their best, especially defensively on many occasion. A win would put us even closer to maintaining a Champion's League spot as it would push the difference to 11 points. The commentary team was saying something about Marcelino telling players that winning all the home games we have remaining, which are all against very winnable sides, will put us through. I don't know if he did say that or not but we are really close with 11 games to go. It's ours to lose, especially if we win next week. 

As usual, let us know what you thought about the game? How good was Kondogbia? Should Barragan have been sent off? Were our penalty shouts legitimate? Should the Betis goal have been disallowed? Who impressed? Who disappointed? All comments, thoughts and opinions are welcome.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Valencia CF vs Real Betis Match Preview

Athletic Bilbao ended Valencia's small 3 match winning streak in what was a very tough game, more so than even anticipated. Valencia CF coach Marcelino started with 3 midfielders, Kondogbia, Coquelin and Parejo in a bid to control possession and dominate the midfield, but it just wasn't effective and both Valencia CF and Athletic  Bilbao had back and forth control of the midfield.

Ferran Torres, Zaza and Vietto started as the regular starting lineup was rested due to there being 3 matches within 2 weeks, so with the new front three Valencia CF was mostly ineffective. Ultimately Valencia CF only managed a draw, which is still a fair result on a tough away match, but it was surprisingly more difficult than anyone would have anticipated and the team has to improve if we are to secure champions league football.

Moving forward and we are about to play against Real Betis a team with which we played the most exciting game this season and possibly in the last few seasons combined. The first match was a thriller with Valencia CF managing to score 3 goals past Real Betis, with a penalty shot for Real Betis being saved by Neto. One would have thought Valencia CF would cruise to a comfortable victory then and there, but it became even better as Valencia CF scored again to make it 4-0 past Real Betis. Everyone switched off expecting a walk in the part till the final whistle, but Real Betis fought back and fought back hard, managing to score 3 goals in a quick succession, with them being a constant attacking threat and threatening to score 4 goal and equalize the result. Thankfully in the last few minutes Valencia CF would score two more goal and ultimately end up winning 3-6 in what was a crazy, but exciting match.

Do I expect the same kind of match this time around as well? Not at all, I think that match was a fluke in all regards and a scoreline like that happens extremely rarely, so I expect an average match this time around, hoping for a Valencia CF win and expecting something along the lines of 2-1 or 3-2, something along those lines.

Some good news for Valencia CF is that Garay and Pereira have both been training with the squad for a week now, though Marcelino has opted not to include them in the squad and take it easy with their reintroduction to the team. I got to say that even though Andreas Pereira hasn't amazed with his performances and certainly hasn't played to a level where he would be a started, he's helped the team on several occasions and is a valuable sub. Bringing someone on like Pereira in the 70th minute when the opposition defenders are tiring, could cause real issues for them and give us an advantage. Right now we don't really have a natural right winger apart from Soler, who himself has been converted from a central midfielder.

Maksimovic is once again out of the squad, a bit of shame really as he has shown a lot of promise and has done good when given the opportunity, but there is just too much competition right now for central midfield that his chances are very limited. Good player and would be a waste for him to fizzle out, hopefully if Marcelino doesn't plan to use him regularly next season we can loan him off to a decent Spanish side so he can gain more experience and hopefully improve more so he can feature more for Valencia CF. Big talent and hopefully it won't get wasted, he could develop into a great player and we could have another big name in our hands in the future.

Anyways what do you guys think about this match, do you foresee a repeat of the previous match between these two or do you expect a "normal" match?

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Athletic Bilbao 1-1 Valencia CF Match Report

A tough game at the New San Mamés ends in a draw and two points dropped. The game was always going to be tough not only being an away game but also at the habit the Basque clubs have of giving us a challenging game. It was a narrow 3-2 win at Mestalla earlier in the season and this was another close game. What makes getting one point tonight both better and worse, is the fact that both rivals for the 4th position, Real Madrid and Villareal, have suffered losses this round. We could've overtaken Real for 3rd position and distanced ourselves from Villareal but at the same time they didn't get ahead despite our slip up. 


The lineup is something I have seen criticized by many even before the match on Valencia social media accounts. Marcelino opted to leave out the two strikers most-in-form, Mina and Rodrigo, and play Zaza and Vietto instead. The midfield also featured a lot of changes with only Parejo remaining from the past games. Kondogbia returned from injury, while the big surprises where Coquelin and Ferran Torres starting over Guedes and Soler. These could just be usual rotations from Marcelino but some of the comments I read was that Marcelino wasn't taking the game seriously. As for defense, Gaya, Murillo and Paulista maintained their position in the starting lineup while Montoya was given a rest to be replaced by Vezo, despite having a good game last round. Neto remained in goal.


The match started with a lot of dominance from Atheltic. We were on the back foot in terms of chances, possession and overall intent. In fact, it only took 10 minutes for Athletic to carve out a chance. An attacking move lead by Raul Garcia was intercepted by our defense, after which the ball was cleared by Murillo. The clearance was sent to Zaza who was then robbed and the loose ball made it's way to the space between Paulista and Vezo where San Jose was lurking. He attempted a shot from the left but Neto easily saved. That could've been a goal if he went for the far post, but good save by Neto regardless.

The Athletic dominance continued and we could barely get the ball into their half let alone into their box. I think it was the first time that we actually made it to their box when Valencia took the lead. A cross into the box by Ferran Torres was cleared by De Marcos only to be intercepted by Kondogbia who carried the ball forward and played it to Vietto. The latter found Ferran again out on the right. It was tempting to cross the ball into the box where Vietto and Zaza where waiting, however, Ferran had the vision to pick out Kondogbia who was left in space. This would prove to be the right choice as he took a few touches and curled the ball from right outside the box into the far post past the keeper. First game back from injury and he produces a moment of brilliance which he started himself.

Six minutes after the goal, a throw-in from Bilbao was carried forward by Cordoba who made his way into the box before being dispossessed and falling to the ground. He claimed a penalty but the replay showed no contact whatsoever and the referee saw through it and rightfully booked Cordoba for simulation. Good call.

Bilbao would get a penalty seven minutes after that, as Susaeta claimed a challenge against Murillo in the penalty area. A cross from the right split Murillo and Gaya, then Murillo made a challenge, got the ball and the follow through made contact with Susaeta. I think as such, this was a harsh call but nonetheless the referee gave it. Aduritz stepped up for the penalty as usual, but thankfully his attempt was denied by Neto. Great save!

Athletic would equalize the score only a few minutes into the second half. A free kick taken by Benat from the right was cleared by Kondogbia to the edge of the box where Oscar de Marcos was waiting. Ferran Torres, was caught watching at the edge of the box and reacted late to closing him down and the Bilbao player took it first time from outside the box and past Neto on the right.

The rest of the game didn't have many serious chances. We had one pretty convincing shout for a penalty for a challenge on Vietto in the box but the referee didn't agree. Marcelino brought on Guedes, Soler and Rodrigo but none of them could make a significant enough difference.


1-0 Kondogbia (23')
1-1 Oscar de Marcos (49')


Neto 7 - good game from him. Saved us from falling 1-0 down early in the game and from a penalty. He didn't stand still and actually dove in attempt to save the goal but it was in the very corner and he couldn't get it.
Vezo 3 - when he got forward he would lose the ball too easily with poor passes/crosses or even trying to dribble past the defense. Left lots of space for Bilbao players when defending
Murillo 4.5 - closed players down well, unfortunate to get booked and get a penalty against him. For the penalty, he got the ball but the follow through did make contact, it was debatable but I think he's not at fault.
Paulista 4 - he seems to crash into other players a lot in the box, needs more spatial awareness.
Gaya 4.5 - another quiet game, would've liked to see him get forward more.
Coquelin 6 - another good game, closed players down well and allowed Parejo and Kondogbia to get forward.
Kondogbia 7 - great to have him back and I hope we place high buy-out clause on him cause he really is valuable. Was great in defensive situations against set-plays. Won the ball back in the lead up to the goal and fantastic shot for the goal.
Parejo 4.5 - decent passing, still misplaced at times. Had one free kick attempt but he didn't trouble the keeper. Seems like he was only vocal for that one game as captain, but not afterwards.
Ferran Torres 6 - good work ethic, looks promising. Did well to pick out Kondogbia in space for the goal. Questionable reaction time for the conceded goal to close down de Marcos.
Zaza 3 - gets booked way too easily for me and early on too. For the rest of the game, he then has to be cautious to avoid getting sent off and can't use his physicality which is one of his biggest assets.
Vietto 5 - quiet for portions of the game. Involved in the lead-up to the goal, picking out Ferran Torres out wide.


Rodrigo 4 - didn't get the chance to impact the game.
Guedes 4 - he seems fed up of all the challenges or tired or both.
Soler N/A


A draw tonight but still 4 games unbeaten. The recent games have similar patterns, we get dominated in the early parts, get a goal against the run of play, the other team equalize quickly and we spend the rest of the game trying to get a narrow win or a draw in this case. We did have a decent shout for a penalty after a challenge on Vietto, but if they had taken their chances we could've lost the game too.

Good to see Kondogbia continue his good performances despite returning from an injury, and Neto has improved in recent games. Coquelin and Ferran Torres put in a good game as well.

Marcelino made a lot of rotations and the players do seems really tired. Our games will start getting tougher in the next few rounds. We played 2 tough games against Basque clubs despite them occupying the lower half of the table, and next we have 2 tough games against 2 Andalusian clubs in Betis and Sevilla who are at the top half of the table. We have to play a lot better in those games if we want to win.

The game against Betis is up next at Mestalla which hopefully will carry the team through. The last game between the two ended 3-6 in favor of Valencia and was a great open game with lots of spaces, end-to-end stuff. I hope this game is also exciting and open, and we manage a win. A quick note is that we are struggling to keep clean sheets and we need to work on conceding goals.

As usual let us know what you thought of the game. Is Ferran Torres showing promise? Kondogbia vs Coquelin? Was Marcelino's lineup the right idea? Who impressed? Who disappointed? All comments, thoughts and opinions are welcome.

P.S. I wrote this late so sorry if I missed anything or remembered the events incorrectly. Please correct me in the comments. Thank you! Amunt!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Atletic Bilbao vs Valencia CF Match Preview

Ever since Valencia CF ended its copa run, its been on a 3 match winning streak and will be looking to extend the streak to four matches tomorrow tight against Atletico Bilbao.
Atletico Bilbao have historically been a strong side and while we do have a decent head to head record against them, they've always been a strong opponent for Valencia CF, but this year they are on the weak side and haven't been playing at a high level at all. This gives Valencia CF a chance to continue its winning streak and overtake Real Madrid on the table, as the just lost their match against Espanyol and with a win tomorrow we could jump over them by a point.

Valencia CF team is almost fully available, with only Garay and Pereira missing due to injuries, with Pereira having complications with his injury and missing for an extended period of time. Kondogbia is also back in the squad after missing last match and should be once against starting tomorrow in place of Coquelin.

Since this match takes place only 3 days after the last one, Valencia CF coach Marcelino might opt to change the team a bit, maybe give Ferran Torres a start or possibly Maksimovic starting on the right wing for Soler, though from the past we've seen that Marcelino wants to stick to the same players as much as possible no matter what, so with that in mind we might only see a change in the attack with Zaza possibly starting over Rodrigo or Santi mina.

Valencia CF is in for a tough match against Atletico Bilbao and none of our matches in the past 2 months have been easy, we've never won convincingly and we've been conceding goals in pretty much every single match for the past few months as well. So its going to be interesting to see if we improve in the defensive department and manage to keep a clean sheet, because as we are winning by a minor difference of usually one goal, it is paramount to keep a clean sheet.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Valencia CF 2-1 Real Sociedad Match Report

A close-run affair at Mestalla with Valencia barely getting the win. Valencia played the better game of the two and should've won by more but an important win nonetheless. Real Sociedad are placed in the bottom half of the table but it was said before that we shouldn't take this game as easy and it proved correct as they had chances to equalize the game as well. Both sides had usual starters out from injury. Valencia was coming to the game with a 2 game win streak against Levante and Malaga while Sociedad came into the game on the back of a Europa League elimination mid-week.


The lineup mostly remained unchanged from last week's game against Malaga. One change was Mina playing alongside Rodrigo instead of Vietto. We've seen this pairing plenty of times this season and they have a lot of experience playing together as such. The midfield remained unchanged with Kondogbia still out to injury. Marcelino opted for the same midfield that proved vital in last week's win with Guedes and Soler out wide on either side of Coquelin and Parejo in the center. The only change in the back line was the return of Montoya in right-back instead of Vezo. Marcelino kept Gaya in left-back and stuck to the Murillo-Paulista partnership in the middle. Neto remained in goal despite recent weak performances and it seems Jaume will remain as the sub since the Copa del Rey ended for Valencia.


Despite this being a home game for Valencia, it was Real Sociedad that dominated the first 10 minutes or so from the game. They didn't pose any significant danger but they had the possession and won the ball back pretty quickly when they did lose it.

Valencia would get their first chance at the 10 minute. Gaya gets forward on the left and puts a cross in which is met by Parejo who head it over the bar. Would've been great if he could've hit the target at least but he doesn't have the best aerial ability.

Another chance would be created a few minutes later from the right via a cross from Carlos Soler towards the far post where Santi Mina was lurking. However, instead of having a go at goal, he opted to head the ball back for a teammate but there was none there and Real Sociedad regained possession.

Despite having around 70% possession at this point, Real Sociedad couldn't manage to hit the goal from any of their efforts. Approaching the 20 minute mark, Coquelin finds the ball at the edge of the box and tests the keeper with a hard and low long-range effort. The keeper parries it and the ball drops to Rodrigo at an angle to left of goal and he skies the shot, didn't even hit the target. Should've done a lot better. That could've easily been a goal but he could at least hit the target. That's the minimum requirement from that distance and with plenty of time and space.

Another chance would come a few minutes later as Soler was tripped on the edge of the box by De la Bella. The free-kick was in Parejo territory and he stepped up and was clearly going to go for goal. He managed to get the ball around the wall but within the keeper's reach and the shot was punched away.

The increasing danger from Valencia would eventually pay off in the 34 minute. Guedes and Parejo managed to regain possession on the left-side half way up the pitch. The latter starts the counter attack finding Rodrigo who then distributed the ball to Montoya who had made an attacking run. Montoya took a few touches and played a beautiful cross to Santi Mina at the far-post, in a similar position to his earlier effort. He opted to go for goal this time and beat the keeper with a header. This goal tied him with Zaza at 10 goals for the season.

The second half started differently the first with Valencia being wasteful in possession among poor first touches and inaccurate passes. Around 10 minutes into the half, Valencia would pay for this. A goal kick from Neto was passed to Murillo at the very edge of the box. Murillo played a risky pass to Coquelin who was closely marked and the ball was intercepted to begin a Sociedad counter. Paulista and Parejo rushed back to try to mitigate the damage but they couldn't get there in time with Paulista being only a few seconds late. Oyarzabal's shot found the top corner and Neto couldn't do a thing.

Valencia would take the lead again after a period of further possession dominance from Sociedad. Rodrigo puts in a cross from the left hand side and the keeper lets the ball slip after getting a touch on it. Santi Mina who made a run to attack the ball, found the loose ball and took action the fastest and scored again to become our top scorer in La Liga with 11 goals.

Real Sociedad would get one more really good chance to equalize the game at the 80th minute. A free kick from the right edge of the box was taken by Canales who tried to beat Neto from that angle. Neto dove low to make the save on the line, the rebound who bounce off the Sociedad player and back towards Neto who blocked it unknowingly with the back of his arm.

The last few minutes were tense as Paulista would get knocked out and Marcelino having used all three of his subs bringing on Zaza, Ferran Torres and Maksimovic for Soler, Guedes, and Rodrigo respectively. Coquelin covered that position meanwhile, and it was good to see Paulista return to take the position soon after. Valencia held on to the narrow lead and took 3 important points.


1-0 Santi Mina (34')
1-1 Mikel Oyarzabal (54')
2-1 Santi Mina (68')


Neto 7 - a lot more active this game. He came out and collected some crosses before they made it to their intended targets and more importantly saved us from a late equalizer.
Montoya 7 - wonderful cross for Santi Mina's goal, no issues defensively either
Paulista 6 - minus one slip up in the first half where he gave away possession on the edge of the box, had a decent game. Tried his best to fix Murillo's mistake for the goal but couldn't make it. Glad to see he's not injured.
Murillo 4.5 - really silly and unnecessary error to give away possession so close to goal and we payed for it as Sociedad equalized. Other than that, had a decent game.
Gaya 6 - quiet game, did his job and that was that. I don't recall any notable achievements or blunders.
Coquelin 8 - I am liking him more and more every game. Even in periods where we are struggling his work ethic is great. Great shot to test the keeper from range, too bad Rodrigo couldn't capitalize on the rebound. Also won the ball back in midfield to start the counter for our second goal..
Parejo 6.5 - some parts of the game, he was great, others he wasn't. Good effort from the free kick to test the keeper. Would've been good to hit the target with the header too. Poor passes and first touches at times. Was involved in the build up to first goal by helping win the ball back.
Guedes 5.5 - lacked energy and drive that's usually there in every game. Was invisible for portions of the game.
Soler 6- quiet game as well. Made a good run to make space for Montoya in the buildup of the first goal.
Rodrigo 7 - great low cross to find Santi Mina and set up the second goal. Held on to possession well and better than usual.
Santi Mina 8.5 - fact of the matter is, he is our top scorer with the least minutes. Definitely coming into his own under Marcelino. His positioning and runs to find space are his best attributes and the reason why he had two goals to his name tonight


Zaza 5.5 - his work rate when we don't have possession is good and works hard to pressure and win the ball back. When we have possession, he seems lazy and doesn't bother looking to make runs or finding space.
Ferran N/A 
Maksimovic N/A


This game earned us 3 important points and extended our winning streak to 3 games. The game ended up being close in terms of scoreline and they could've equalized and even had a penalty shout. Their best chance came from our own error and misjudgment on the part of Murillo. Other than that, we looked pretty secure. The stats for the game in terms of shots and shots on target tell a story that is not reflected in the scoreline. Despite having significantly lower possession, we had more shots, hit the target more and scored more. We were more effective than Socieded, however, that is only relatively. We could've been more effective in front of goal with a few good chances that would've put the game beyond doubt and earned us a more convincing scoreline to reward the effort. However, a win is a win and the points are deserved.

Our next game is away to Athletic Bilbao. They also find themselves in the bottom half of the table but we have to maintain the humility and desire to win even against lower positioned opposition. I keep saying this over and over but it's the reality of the matter and it can't be emphasized enough. It will be a tough game in a tough stadium away from home but we are the favorites nonetheless. It would be great to build on the winning streak and the confidence of the players with another away win.

As usual, let us know your thoughts about the game. Is Santi Mina our best forward this season? Is Coquelin making a good enough impression to warrant a purchase this summer? Who impressed? Who disappointed? All comments, thoughts and opinions are appreciated and welcomed.

Valencia vs Real Sociedad Match Preview

Since bowing out of the Spanish cup Valencia CF has done much better, stringing up two wins in a row and on the outcome of the Spanish cup its safe to say that if it wasn't such a big focus and maybe all of the reserve and youth players were played with no worry that we'd get beaten it would have been better for Valencia CF as the squad just doesn't have the depth to play on more than one front, at least not with the amount of injuries and how long many of these have been.

At one point we didn't have any defenders to play, we'd had to have makeshift wingers like Maksimovic and Gaya playing on the wings as we've had both our starters injured. Thing is we have enough players for cover, but Andreas Pereira is not on the same level as Soler, Maksimovic is not fast paced to be suited for a winger and Gaya is better when at the left back spot, rather than the wing.

So we've had a lot of injuries, lack of squad depth and fighting on two fronts has been hard, which made the team suffer in the Spanish league, which to me should have been a priority. The cup is meaningless, teams barely gain any money from it even from winning it, the prestige is also small and mostly serves as a morale boost to players, which is fine, but there are other ways for morale boost like qualifying for the Champions league.

Tonight Valencia CF will be playing against Real Sociedad who've been really impressive last season, though this season they've been struggling and haven't been on the same level as last year. They've let in more goals than 18 of the other teams, with only two of the relegation fighting teams conceding more goals than them. They are dangerous in the attack though and they've scored 46 goals, almost as much as Valencia CF who've scored 47 and we are 3rd by the number of goals scored, only behind Barcelona and Real Madrid.

So the key for tonight will be to defend strongly, mark their players tightly, don't lose possession cheaply and try to get as much shots at their goal as possible, possibly from long range and hope to score like that or from rebounds. Basically throw as much attacks at them as we can afford, while keeping the defensive shape solid.

In website news I've been able to update the transfer page with all of the transfers, they were quite outdated and no transfers for 2017/18, now its fully updated with all of the transfers and all of the details.

The player ratings are almost finished, just a few more games to add to it and I'll publish the player ratings as well. This should be done and published later in the day!

The Squad page has also been updated and made fully accurate. I'm also working on "full stats" for all of the players for the statistics page, will possibly make one change to it from before as I remove the minutes played as its extremely tough to keep it up to date and will probably be adding some other info like chances created or something like that.