Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Ferran Torres joins Man City

Well, the news was made official 1 hour ago. The first departure of what could be a long and depressing transfer window. 



Ferran Torres has joined Manchester City. Few eyebrows will be raised at that, as it's only been a matter of time, however the transfer fee for one of the club's biggest talents in years is gutting: 23 million euros, with a paltry 5 million more possible in bonuses. With a year left on his contract and him refusing to negotiate, the club had very little wiggle room. Hopes of a bidding war didn't materialise, with only Manchester City in for him in the end. 

For that pittance, I'd almost have been tempted to keep him and just let him go for free next summer, there's very little we'd be able to buy with 23 million.



Monday, July 27, 2020

Valencia appoint Javi Gracia

Valencia have just made official the appointment of Javi Gracia, who signed a two-year contract.


The question is, will he be able to see out the two years? Let's start with the positives. Gracia is Spanish and has extensive experience both in La Liga and abroad and therefore speaks Spanish and English as well as basic Russian. He's not a Celades-type, fumbling his way round for the first time in club management.

Gracia's time in management goes back to 2004. He started with Villarreal youth and then lower division sides before spending a year in Greece. On returning, he was able to get Almeria promoted to the top flight, managed relegation strugglers Osasuna, then helped Malaga to eighth and ninth. He then ended up abroad again, having an underwhelming time at Rubin Kazan before moving to England to manage Watford who had fallen from fourth to tenth under his predecessor. Though he was unable to substantially improve results, with the team finishing 14th, the club saw enough to stick with him and the second season was a good one, with the club finishing 11th, their highest ever Premier league finish, and reaching their first cup final in 35 years, where they were crushed by Man City. After a slow start to the 2019-20 season, the trigger happy owners of Watford fired him, replacing him by Quique Sanchez Flores, who would be sacked at the start of the year, with his replacement Pearson also sacked before the season's end, none of which helped as Watford were relegated. At least Gracia has experience of working under erratic owners.

In terms of playing style, he generally goes for 4-4-2, often based around a double pivot, and with, at times, inverted wingers, meaning that the style often resembles 4-2-2-2. His teams were known for defensive solidity and low possession, often with two banks of four. Late in his time at Osasuna, fans turned against him, finding the playing style boring. Sound familiar? That said, he's been known to mix it up at times, also playing a 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 and a back three. At Watford his teams thrived on soaking up pressure and hitting on the counter.

Ultimately, I find it an underwhelming, but not surprising choice. The foolishness of the club's choices in the 2019-20 season means that top managers were not exactly queueing up outside Mestalla. He's one of the better choices from a limited field and does at least bring experience, including that of managing on a tighter budget. I'm not overly optimistic about this one. He strikes me as being a manager more for a plucky underdog team battling to make the top half, not a team like Valencia, but let's see how he does.



Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Guillamon renews until 2023

Finally, after the doom and gloom of late, we have some very good news, first mentioned in the comments by our contributor Kuku.

Hugo Guillamon has signed a 3-year contract extension, until 30 June 2023.


His release clause is set at 80 million euros. Guillamon, of course, broke into the first team after the restart in a position where Valencia were badly in need of players with Garay leaving and Mangala and Diakhaby proving error-prone. It's a much needed boost to the back line, as he was out of contract and Villarreal were reported to be interested.

Meanwhile, the search for the new coach rumbles on. After the resignation of the previous sporting director, chief scout Miguel Angel Corona is now taking a more prominent role. A rumour on Twitter (here) is that he has proposed the options of Bordalas and Javi Gracia to Lim, with Ruben Baraja as a plan C. Mendes, in contrast, has proposed the options of Laurent Blanc and Leonardo Jardim. Of those, I'd probably go for Jardim, as he has good international experience, has worked well with young players and generally favours a more attacking style.

However, the way of doing it just shows the problems with the club. Why is Lim taking such a prominent role at all? Has he consistently demonstrated his footballing acumen? Obviously not. On the contrary, it seems that what he knows about football management could be written on the back of a postage stamp. In other clubs there would be a competent sporting director who makes this choice and then the owner simply rubber stamps it. Of course, Valencia being Valencia, we don't even have a sporting director. The involvement of Mendes is also worrisome. While Jardim interests me, there would be the suspicion that he would just be Mendes' inside man, so that Mendes could use the club as a shop window for his prospects, most of whom seem to come from his c-list rather than his top table. It is expected that the new manager will be appointed by next week, possibly Monday, as the club will return to training on 10 August.



Sunday, July 19, 2020

La Liga Matchday #38: Sevilla FC 1 - 0 Valencia CF Match Thread

The final game of a season that couldn't possibly end fast enough for some Valencia fans. This was supposed to be the decider game on which of these two rivals would take the 4th spot and qualify for the Champions League. Unfortunately, only Sevilla managed to make it to the end of the path. They have already qualified for the Champions League, while Valencia play this game with the hope that they might qualify to the Europa League. A win here is not enough though, results from the Real Sociedad and Getafe games have to go in Valencia's favor as well.

The news since the last matchday has been a continuation of the discussion on who the next Valencia coach will be. Sources say that Lim could decide on Monday at the earliest and by the end of the week at the latest. The most discussed names have been Bordalas, Javi Garcia and Ruben Baraja, with names like Laurent Blanc, Valverde and Emery all fading away. It remains to be seen what Lim will do.

Sevilla arrive at this game with qualification secured. They are already looking ahead to their second leg Round of 16 of their Europa League fixture against Roma no doubt. In their last match day they played out a 1-1 away draw to Real Sociedad.

Valencia's last game was their final one at Mestalla for the season. They beat an already-relegated Espanyol side by a narrow 1-0 margin thanks to a goal from Gamerio that was set up with a brilliant Ferran through ball.

FORM ***all competitions

Sevilla: DWWWW
Valencia: WLWDL

SQUAD

Gaya and Rodrigo's absence continues as they work to recover from their injuries.

Costa will miss this game due suspension after he picked up a red card against Espanyol. This will mean that youngster Guerrero will be the likely starter.

Diakhaby will also miss this game with a suspension from accumulation of yellow cards, meaning Javi Jimenez gets another call up.

Esquerdo and Koba Lein are called up from the youth team to complete the squad numbers caused by absences.

Going the other way, Manu Vallejo has recovered and is available for selection.


Bench: Cillissen, Thierry, Guillamon, Jimenez, Guerrero, Kondogbia, Soler, Kang In, Esquerdo, Koba Lein, Vallejo, Sobrino


FIRST HALF

5' - Coquelin forces the opposing left-back into a rushed clearance which falls straight to Guedes with space ahead of him. He takes a few touches forward and fires from distances but Bono sees it all the way and parries.
15' - Jesus Navas wins back the ball at the edge of the Valencia box. Joan Jordan finds Navas again in the wide position who then plays the ball into the box to Oliver Torres. The youngster takes a touch and shoots at a narrow angle, forcing the save from Jaume nonetheless.
22 ' - Early substitution for Valencia, Guedes is subbed off after picking up an injury. Good thing this is the last game of the season. Unfortunate if he has to suffer another long-term injury. Soler is his replacement.
23' - Sevilla play the ball between themselves on the right flank before releasing a ball over the defense to Ocampos who acrobatically strikes at the ball and gets it on target. Jaume can save easily from such a tight angle.
28' - Diego Carlos with a long ball over the Valencia defense for Munir to run onto. He gets into the Valencia box but can only hit the side netting.
38' - Parejo's free kick is on target and caused some trouble for the keeper due to the bounce just before it made it to him. He manages to avert the danger and play goes to a corner.
45' - Five minutes are added by the referee for stoppages

SECOND HALF

47' - Reguilon tests Wass and is allowed quite a bit of space. He fakes that he is going for the run and instead picks out an incisive pass between Wass and Ferran to find Munir in the box. Munir's shot hits the far post and deflects away from goal towards Soler who clears. That was close.
52' - Yellow card shown to Carlos Soler for tripping Oliver Torres in a tactical foul after the player had pulled away from him.
55' - Goal for Sevilla. 1-0. Oliver Torres and Gudelj exchange passes on the left before Torres plays a ball for Reguilon to run onto. It seems like it's going out and Parejo watches it on its way, however, Reguilon perseveres in his run and puts in a sliding challenge to keep it in. He takes it past Parjeo near the goal line, gets past Wass as well sending him to the ground. Parejo is busy claiming the foul against Wass and Reguilon doesn't wait, he takes a touch to open up the angle at goal and blasts it into the top right corner. Really sloppy defensive work from Parejo and Wass.
71' -  Two changes in quick succession from each team. For Valencia, Maxi Gomez and Ferran Torres come off to be replaced by Sobrino and Kang-In Lee. For Sevilla, de Jong and Munir are replaced by Suso and En-Nesyri.
79' - Sevilla take off Oliver Torres and bring on Franco Vazquez in his place
82' - Final set of changes from Voro. Coquelin and Wass off, Kondogbia and Correia on.
83' - Parejo spreads play out wide for Correia on the right. He draws the attention of the opposing left-back and finds Gameiro's run behind the defender with a good pass. Gameiro drives the ball into the box and takes aim at the far post but his shot fizzles past the post.
84' - Jaume's clearance is blocked by En-Nesyri who heads the ball down to Suso. Suso takes a touch past Kondogbia causing him to lose his balance, and then another one to set himself up for the shot which is on the wrong side of the post.
85' - Final change for Sevilla. Lucas Ocampos is subbed off and Sergi Gomez takes his place.
90' - Five minutes of additional time signaled by the fourth official.
90+3' - Kondogbia receives the ball from Parejo and tries a shot from distance but its wide.
90+5' - Florenzi attempts a cross for Mangala but the keeper sithere to it first.


FULL-TIME

Hardly surprising based on recent results. The most surprising part was that they didn't lose by more. The team struggled against two relegation sides in their previous two games and now against a rival that has nothing more to play for this season.

Sevilla's goal sums up this game. One player had more spirit in him to fight for a lost ball while two Valencia players watched and tried to get the referee to intervene instead of doing so themselves. Parejo was never someone you would want defending in your own penalty box and he showed everyone why again today.

Valencia's only chance at the Europa League was if they got the win and all three points. They couldn't do that but even they could, they would be level on points with Granada and Real Sociedad in 6th place. The tie breaker is head-to-head matches where Valencia would beat Granada but lose to Real Sociedad, meaning Sociedad would qualify. However, depending on the Copa del Rey results, if Sociedad were to win, Valencia would've got the additional spot. Lot of if's but it's too late for that now.

Full-time stats. 12-6 shots, 3-2 shots on target, 61-39 %possession.

With the season over the owner has to take a hard look on how to rebuild this team. Learn from the mistakes of the past and stop trying the same thing over and over expecting different results, it won't happen and is just a fool's strategy. With no European competitions to partake in next season, it is the perfect time to rebuild and properly this time. No band-aids, no shortcuts. The hard way. The new coach has to be someone who can take this task and a proven record that has credibility with the players and allows them to get behind his ideas. That is the most important step. Next, he has to be involved in weeding out the players and having a say in the signings for next season. If these decisions are only evaluated from a business lens, the team will continue to suffer.

All that is the least that can be done for the fans that stuck with the team throughout the season. And for those that didn't, that would be a step to win them back.

Thank you everyone for keeping up with the posts throughout the season. Between us in the writers team, we managed to cover every game this season.and your comments under each thread were definitely something we look forward to reading. Stay tuned for more posts reviewing the season and player performance, keeping you up to date with transfer activity and preparations for the next season. Amunt!

Thursday, July 16, 2020

La Liga Matchday #37: Valencia CF 1 - 0 RCD Espanyol Match Thread

The penultimate game of the season and the last one at Mestalla. This would usually be a time in which teams would be fighting tooth and nail and mustering up every last bit of willpower and strength to achieve their goals. For these two teams here, Valencia and Espanyol, the season is over though. Valencia cannot practically qualify for either European competition while Espanyol are seeing out their last 2 games before bidding farewell to the first division as they cannot escape relegation in the time remaining. Nothing left to fight for and everything positive will only be a consolation prize.

Who will occupy the bench of Valencia for the coming season(s)? That has been the question that the media has been covering. Around three days ago, the talk was all about Laurent Blanc. This week it's learning more towards Bordalas.

Valencia come into the game following one of the most miserable games of the season. They played another relegation side, Leganes, away from home and went down 1-0 at half-time due to a penalty conceded. The home side were barely troubled. In the second half, Valencia got gift after gift. Leganes were reduced to 10-men via red card, Valencia were awarded a penalty and Leganes parked the bus, conceding all possession to Valencia. The home team made entirely defensive subs while Valencia brought on all the artillery they could off the bench. Yet still, the man advantage wasn't made use of, the penalty that was awarded was missed, and despite all the possession and firepower on the field Leganes would not concede. They would walk away with all 3 points.

Espanyol welcomed Eibar to their home grounds in the previous matchday. Despite having an equal amount of chances and over 70% of the possession in the game, they suffered a 0-2 defeat with both Eibar goals coming in the first half; one from open play and one a penalty.

The previous encounter between Valencia and Espanyol in La Liga ended in a 1-2 win for Valencia away from home. Espanyol would take the lead from a penalty due to a Diakhaby handball. Valencia evened out the game with a Parejo penalty after Rodrigo was taken down in the penalty box. Maxi Gomez scored the winner, meeting Rodrigo's cross to the near post with a header past the Espanyol keeper in the 80th minute.

FORM ***all competitions

Valencia: LWDLL
Espanyol: LLLLL

SQUAD

Gaya and Rodrigo are still in the process of recovery and miss the game. Manu Vallejo spent the last 3 days in the hospital and will miss this game as well. Esquerdo has been called from the youth team to complete the numbers.

Bench: Domenech, Mangala, Paulista, Wass, Florenzi, Guerrero, Parejo, Cheryshev, Coquelin, Esquerdo, Sobrino, Maxi Gomez

Starting XI looks very different. Mostly young players with Kondogbia, Costa, Cillissen, and Gameiro for experience. Thierry and Guillamon finally get their start under Voro. Parejo also finally gets rested.


FIRST HALF


17' - Goal for Valencia. 1-0! Ferrran Torres puts in a fantastic through ball behind the defenders for Gameiro to run onto. He gets into the box with the two center backs on his heels but he manages to slot it past the keeper at the near post.
36' - Fantastic save by Cillissen to deny a dangerous change from Espanyol. Didac Vila had put in a great cross for Raul de Tomas but Cillissen denied him the goal. Saves like these are the equivalent of goals.
39' - Yellow card shown to Pipa for dangerous play.
45' - Three minutes of stoppage time added by the referee.


SECOND HALF

59' - Yellow card shown to Diakhaby for tripping Raul de Tomas.
63' - First change for both teams. Valencia replace Kang-In with Coquelin while Espanyol replace Marc Roca with Oscar Melando.
66' - Yellow card shown to Raul de Tomas for a push on Kondogbia
69' - Yellow card shown to Didac Vila for a rough challenge on Kondogbia
71' - Single change for Espanyol. Raul de Tomas is replaced by Compuzano. Double change for Valencia. Correia and Ferran are taken off, Florenzi and Cheryshev are brought on.
77' - Final set of changes for Valencia. Diakhby and Gameiro make way for Paulista and Maxi Gomez.
80' - Yellow card shown to Coquelin for a tactical foul to stop the advancing Espanyol player
81' - Yellow card shown to Bernardo for a rough challenge on Maxi Gomez
85' - Espanyol are really going for it with a triple change. Sergi Darder, Lei Wu and Bernardo are replaced by Ribaudo, Lozano and Vargas.
90' - Yellow card shown to Jaume Costa for a lunging challenge on Pipa as he was about to get into the penalty box. VAR review the footage and calls the referee to check. The yellow card is overruled and a red card is shown instead. Valencia down to 10-men. The replay shows that he had his studs up and made contact with the calf of Pipa. Dangerous challenge.

FULL TIME

Narrow win against the last place team in the league. Voro made a lot of rotations and changes from previous games, fielding a team composed largely of younger players. Still with these changes it wasn't enough for a convincing performance against Espanyol. However, there is plenty of room to grow and work with this young team, a lot of which don't have many minutes playing with each other, in the positions they did today or minutes at all in general.

Full-time stats 6-15 shots, 3-6 shots on target, 52-38% possession.

With Real Sociedad, Getafe and Villareal all dropping points this matchday, Valencia is still mathematically in contention for a Europa League spot. Depending on the results of the next and final matchday of the season, as well as the final of the Copa del Rey, the teams who qualify will be determined.

For Valencia, the final match of the season is away to Sevilla on Sunday, July 19.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

La Liga Matchday #36: CD Leganes 1 - 0 Valencia CF Match Thread

Three games from the end of the season. With some rivals having challenging games this matchday, Valencia should look to finally capitalize on this opportunity after wasting so many earlier in the season.

The rumor mill in Valencia this week mostly continued their speculation on who the new coach would be. There was also discussion on Guillamon and how strange it was that he stopped featuring in the team under Voro despite the coach giving all but one (Correia) of the other players some game time. Maybe this will change this game, who knows.

Leganes played out a 0-0 away draw against Eibar in their previous La Liga fixture. It was a pretty even game where there was one shot on target between both teams and it went to Eibar.

Valencia managed to secure their first win under Voro in a home game against Real Valladolid which finished 2-1. The team's first goal came in the first half after a great team play to win the ball back in the opposition half and a series of quick passes that ended in a squared ball for Maxi Gomez to finish. Valladolid would equalize a couple of minutes after the half-time restart, with a deflected cross into the penalty box being controlled by Victor Garcia before he quickly turned away from Diakhaby and beat Cillissen. Kang In Lee would take all 3 points for Valencia with fantastic shot from the edge of the penalty area.

The game earlier in the season between these two teams at Mestalla ended 1-1. Dani Parejo's first-half penalty goal was cancelled out by Leganes in the same half. A fortunate deflection off a Leganes player had fell into the path of Oscar Rodriguez in the penalty box where he managed to beat Cillissen at the near post.

Leganes are currently fighting relegation at second to last place in the league with 29 points. Valencia are in 8th position, 3 points away from Getafe and the Europa League places.

FORM (***all competitions)

Leganes: DWLLD
Valencia: WDLLL

SQUAD

More rotations from Voro, as Domenech starts over Cillissen, Costa starts over Guerrero and, both Kondogbia and Coquelin are in the same lineup. Coquelin has played on the right-side of midfield before but this could very well also be an experimental change in formation.


Bench: Cillissen, Thierry, Mangala, Florenzi, Guillamon, Guerrero, Soler, Cheryshev, Kang In, Ferran, Vallejo, Sobrino

FIRST HALF

5' - It looks like the formation for Valencia is still a 4-4-2 with Coquelin playing on the right flank.
7' - Guedes find himself unmarked in the opposition half and strikes at goal from distance, hitting the target and rattling the cross bar. It's good to see a diversification of the types of efforts on goal.
8' - Yellow card shown to Daniel Wass for a late challenge on Jonathan Silva.
15' - Penalty awarded to Leganes after Kondogbia's trailing hand made contact contact with the ball as it bounced off the head of the Leganes player.
17' - Goal for Leganes. 1-0. Ruben Perez scores from the penalty, just rolling it into the net as Jaume dives the wrong way.
23' - First substitution for Leganes. The injured Kevin Rodrigues is replaced by Bryan Gil.
26' - Free kick is well delivered by Parejo into the opposition penalty area and onto the head of Diakhaby. He nods it back across the face of goal, the keeper gets a touch, there is a bit of pinball between them and the Valencia players before the ball is finally cleared.
45' - Three minutes of injury time added by the referee.

HALF-TIME

Not that the half the Valencia would have wanted. Despite having the majority of possession in the half, the team still finds themselves behind on goals as well as total shots for that matter.

Valencia would cause some worry for Legans in the opening 10 minutes as Guedes struck a shot from distance that hit the cross bar. That was the closest that Valencia got to scoring.

At around the 15 minute mark, Valencia gifted the opposition a penalty after Kondogbia handled the ball. That was the only shot on target for Leganes and the goal that separates the two teams in this half. Valencia would not look like they were going to score for the remainder of the half.

With Coquelin occupying the right flank for this game, most of the attacks went through Guedes on the left. This made Valencia very predictable and easy to defend for Leganes. As soon as Guedes so much as touches the ball he gets taken out by his marker and the play shuts down.

Valencia has overall played very lethargic as the ball movement is very slow. This further adds to the predictability of the team and nullifies danger as Leganes defenders have plenty of time to get back and reorganize.

Voro's substitutions in the second half have usually had a positive impact on the team. Changes are definitely needed based on the performance of this half.

Half-time stats. 5-3 shots; 1-1 shots on target; 38-62% possession.

SECOND HALF

45' - First change for Valencia. Kondogbia is replaced by Ferran Torres. Coquelin moves to a central position as a result of this change.
46' - Diakhaby plays a ball over the defense to Ferran Torres who manages to beat the keeper, however he was in an offside position. The goal is ruled out.
52' - Yellow card shown Jonathan Silva for handling and kick Ferran Torres in an attempt to stop his run. VAR reviews the decision and calls the referee's attention to the challenge again. The yellow card is replaced with a straight red and Leganes is down to 10 men. Replay shows that he had made contact with Ferran's calf with his studs up.
56' - Parejo picks out Jaume Costa in the penalty box who then manages to get a shot on target but it's hit directly at the keeper. Easy save.
57 ' - Another VAR check for a handball by Tarin in the penalty box. It is a clear handling of the ball and a deserved penalty. Leganes falling apart over the last 5 minutes. Parejo steps up to take it.
59' - The penalty is saved. Cuellar guesses correctly and smothers Parejo's shot.
61' - Second change for Leganes. Roque Mesa replaces Guerrero. A defensive change as Leganes is left with no striker on the field.
63' - Jaume Costa plays a fantastic cross into the box and Ferran Torres gets on the end of it. The header is over the cross bar though. That needs to hit the target at least.
64' - Double substitution for Valencia. Cheryshev replaces Jaume Costa. Florenzi replaces Wass.
69' - Yellow card shown to Roque Mesa for forcefully stopping the run of Guedes. Free kick in a good position for Valencia.
70' - Parejo hits the target from the free kick, curling it towards the far post and forcing a save from the keeper.
73' - Another change in personnel for Valencia. Paulista off, Kang In on. Interesting to see how the players lineup with this change.
78' - Cheryshev gets past his defender and plays a cross to the opposite flank where Florenzi sends the ball across the face of goal. Gameiro slides in to get a touch but it is just out of reach. All it needed was a touch and it would've been a goal.
79' - Yellow card shown to Aitual Ruibal for a tackle from behind on Diakhaby. Red card shown to one of the Leganes staff for dissent against the referee.
85' - Double change for Leganes. Siovas and Gill are replaced by Recio and Aviles. Valencia's final change is Sobrino for Gameiro.
90' - Seven minutes added by the referee for injuries and stoppages.
90+2' - Yellow card shown to Awaziem for time wasting.
90+3' - Yellow card shown to Recio for a scuffle with Parejo.

FULL-TIME

Far from the level required for the Champions League or the Europa League for that matter. The result today is the best indicator of that and pretty much seals Valencia's fate outside of the two European competitions.

After a poor first half, Valencia was given the upper hand for almost the entirety of the second half as Jonathan Silva was shown a red card, leaving Leganes with 10 men.

Further after, Valencia would be given a penalty would be awarded to Valencia for a Leganes a handball. Parejo could not convert the effort to a goal with the keeper guessing the right way. That was Parejo's first miss in his last 6 penalties.

Leganes would make defensive change after change while Valencia would make one offensive change after the other. They would have significantly more shots and a lot on target.

On top of all that, many Leganes players were yellow carded and had to play cautiously to avoid further red cards. Despite that, Valencia could not find the goal. How? Who knows. All this against a team fighting relegation.

Valencia is known to struggle against team's that park the bus and Leganes did that for the entire second half with all their players behind the ball. This proved the case once more, with Valencia having no answers to the tight defense of Leganes.

Full-time stats. 6-13 shots, 1-5 shots on target, 34-66% possession.

Next game for Valencia at home to Espanyol on Thusrday July 16.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

La Liga Matchday #35: Valencia CF 2 - 1 Real Valladolid SAD Match Thread

Valencia return to Mestalla to face against Real Valladolid for matchday 35 of La Liga. The players and management have changed their words to align with reality and have been talking about Europa League being the season's objective. This was even happening before the last game despite the Champions League being mathematically possible. There is still debate as to whether or not that's worth it. Regardless, the team had quite a bit of work to do to achieve even that goal.

The past three days have featured rumors of who the next coach for Valencia could be. Names included Ernesto Valverde, Mauricio Pochettino, Massimilliano Allegri, Marco Silva and Laurent Blanc.

There was also news that Kang In has specifically asked to leave the club as he feels that he will never get the minutes he wants. Voro did feature players like Mangala, Sobrino and Vallejo which were out of favor for previous coaches, so it will be interesting to see if he gives Kang In a chance as well. Correia is another player desperate for minutes.

Valencia come into this game on the back of a 2-2 away draw at Granada. While Valencia were lucky to come away with a draw based on the chances that Granada had, the team did show improvement from the previous game in one key area: they got chances in front of goal and converted them. Not many chances, but they ended up in the back of the net. This was an area the team struggled with all season. The goals came from two players who needed a confidence boost. Vallejo scored after some perseverance from Cheryshev in finding him with a great pass, cancelling out the Granada lead quickly. Guedes would get Valencia in front with a beautifully struck shot from outside the penalty area. Unfortunately, the defense had a lapse to both allow a free kick and leave enough of a gap for the shot to pass through onto goal.

Real Valladolid played out a very tight game against Alaves at home. The game was even on almost every metric and the scoreline reflected that up until the 88th minute when Joaquin Moreno managed to put the home team in front, leaving the away team no time to respond.

The first fixture between these two teams in La Liga was in December with the game ending 1-1. With the game remaining scoreless for 82 minutes, Real Vallodolid found the goal in the 83 minute. Valencia would find the equalizer late in injury time as Ferran plays the ball across the face of goal where Manu Vallejo tapped the ball into an empty net.

***FORM (all competitions)

Valencia: DLLLW
Real Valladolid: WDDDL

SQUAD

The positive news in terms of personnel is the return of Ferran Torres after missing last game due to injury. Additionally, there was worry that Jaume Costa picked up an injury against Granada as he was subbed off in half time for Guerrero. However, those worries were alleviated and he is included in the squad list for this match.


Bench: Domenech, Thierry, Costa, Mangaka, Wass, Guillamon, Cheryshev, Ferran, Coquelin, Vallejo, Sobrino

FIRST HALF

30' - GOAL VALENCIA! 1-0! Good pressure from Valencia to win the ball back in the opposition half. Guedes carries the ball forward through the middle and picks out the run of Gameiro on the right. Gameiro looks up and plays a ball between the defenders legs, across the face of goal where Maxi Gomez pokes it past the keeper.
45' - Four minutes of injury time added by the referee

SECOND HALF 

46' - Substitution for Valladolid. Ruben Alcaraz comes on for Federico Emeterio.
47' - Goal for Real Valladolid. 1-1.  A cross from Valladolid is deflected by Soler and falls fortunately to their strikers in the penalty box. Victor Garcia has his back to goal with Diakhaby pressuring him. He turns quickly and fires at the far post, beating Cillissen.
59' - Triple substitution for Valladolid. Enes Unal, Ben Arfa, and Victor Garcia are replaced by Sergi Guardiola, Pablo Hervias and Sandro.
64' - First changes in personnel for Valencia. Kang In Lee replaces Carlos Soler, Manu Vallejo replaces Gameiro and Coquelin replaces Parejo.
71' - Yellow card shown to Adrian Guerrero for a rough foul on Pablo Hervias
75' - Yellow card shown to Kondogbia for tripping Sergi Guardiola
83' - Double change for Valencia. Wass comes on for Florenzi and Cheryshev replaces Guerrero (strangely).
84' - Final change for Valladolid. Kiko Perez off, Javi Sanchez on.
88' - GOAL VALENCIA! 2-1! Kondogbia and Guedes play a one-two on the right flank before laying it off for Kang In right at the edge of the box. Kang In takes a few touch inside and fires at the near post, his shot masked from the keeper by the defender marking him and the ball sneaks just inside the post. He took a risk at a critical time and it paid off.
90' - Five minutes of injury time added by the referee
90+2' - Yellow card shown to Guedes for a a heavy challenge on Kiko

FULL-TIME

First a loss (although could've been worse), then just barely scraping a draw (although could've been worse) and finally a narrow win (although could've been worse). This has been the team's performance after Celades left. The improvement is coming in small intervals but it's there. Let's hope the next game carries this momentum forward.

The results keep improving under Voro. First off, the team had shots and most of them were on target, That's a very important step forward. The flip side of that still remains in that Valladolid were allowed the same number of shots and similar number on target despite seeing less of the ball.

Once again, a substitution made by Voro had the intended effect on the game and resulted in a positive outcome for the team. Kang In was given some play time as predicted in the preview to this game, following the pattern of Voro giving more bench players chances in previous games.

The first goal for Valencia was a very team-spirited goal. They pressured together to win the ball and then strung together quick passes to counter-attack and give Maxi Gomez the chance to score.

The goal for Valladolid was a combination of a failure to close down both the player delivering the cross (marked by Soler) as well as Victor Garcia in the penalty area (marked by Diakhaby), and a good piece of individual skill by Garcia.

Valencia's winning goal also involved some combination play between Kondogbia and Guedes to bring the ball forward. However, Kang In took on responsibility himself to set up a good angle and squeeze the ball past the keeper. masked by his marker.

Full-time stats. 8-8 shots, 5-5 shots on target, 57-43% possession.

Next game is on Sunday July 12th away to Leganes.