Saturday, November 10, 2018

Getafe 0-1 Valencia

Just when we were preparing the obvious sarcastic remarks about it being a shock that Valencia had drawn 0-0 the team stole a close fought game with a late goal. I had to go out just after the hour mark so I missed the goal (and last 30 minutes.)

Just one change in the line-up, with returning Parejo replacing Kondogbia, who had injury concerns himself. It's notable that Marcelino has started the same 10 players in the last 3 games. Batshuayi, who has been poor, was dropped from the line-up altogether. Don't know if it's possible to terminate his loan in January and just get someone else in?

In the first half at least, Valencia and Rodrigo in particular had at least 3 chances to put us in front. In the first, in just the third minute, Guedes out him through, but he curled his shot just past the far post. In the second he shot at the keeper and Soler was left kicking at air when a knock back to Mina would have been better. Just before the end of the half, Guedes again put Rodrigo through but he shot at the keeper. We have at least been creating more chances the last few games, but remain as rubbish as ever at converting them.

Getafe had their chances as well, but fell victim to our offside trap, hit the woodwork and found Neto in good form as always. Our goal came through a penalty. Parejo hit it predictably, the keeper guessed right and couldn't get there.

So the positives. This is the first time since 2005 we've kept clean sheets in 4 consecutive away games. We lost both games to Getafe last season so this recovers three points (though we're still 10 points down on what we got in the identical fixtures last season.) The negatives are that if it hadn't been for the penalty we'd have drawn again and we remain a fair bit off the pace. So this is a step in the right direction but still so much improvement is needed.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Valencia 3-1 Young Boys post-match thread

Finally, a home win, a half decent performance, especially in attack, with the team scoring three goals in a competitive game for the first time since 18 March (!)

In the Girona game I thought the performance was better, even if we suffered from the usual wastefulness in front of goal, at least we were creating more chances. Last night, Soler was excellent with Mina and Rodrigo also enjoying good performances, Guedes showing flashes of last season and a fairly solid midfield duo of Kondogbia and Coquelin.

The win means it's very likely Valencia will continue in European football after the winter break. Unfortunately. Manchester's win at Juventus means it's almost certain Valencia will be in Europa league. Just beating Manchester at Mestalla is now not enough. If we lose or draw at Juventus, we have to hope Man United then fail to win at home to Young Boys. Alternatively, we need to win at Juventus. So, our destiny at least is in our hands, but it looks like a step too far.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Ebro 1-2 Valencia (Copa del Rey)

Valencia started their Copa del Rey campaign in Zaragoza, coincidentally in exactly the same stadium where they started it last year. Comparisons with last season pretty much end there. Sure, the team did manage their first win in just over a month but as ever it's on the back of a performance which leaves little to celebrate and the game did nothing to wash away the bad taste that's been building up. On the contrary, it was just more evidence that this team has seriously lost the plot as we scraped to a 1-goal win over a team that is bottom of the third level and that despite having a man advantage for over an hour.

No surprises in the line-up

Kang-in, as expected, started his first official game but aside from that, knowing the team absolutely had to win this one Marcelino played it safe, giving game time to first team players who have been less active recently like Lato, Murillo, Diakhaby, Ferran and Wass.

Kang-In was active in the early period, often for the wrong reasons, as his enthusiasm and lack of experience caused several fouls and he was lucky to escape a booking by a card happy referee. Ebro for the most part were happy to sit back in a 5-4-1 asking what Valencia could do. As we all know, the answer to that this season has been nothing and no different here. Despite lots of possession there was little created and the first clear chance actually fell to them. Wass screwed up in possession, did at least get a tackle in, but the ball bounced through only for Murillo to save us with an inch perfect last ditch tackle.

Our first clear chance fell to Gameiro, who did well to recover the ball, but his shot was straight at the keeper. In minute 30, the ref did us a favour, sending their player off for a second yellow. I thought both his yellows were a bit harsh to be fair. An hour to play, surely that could motivate us and give us the edge? Nope. What followed had shades of the Juventus game, with the difference that we were playing a team bottom of the Spanish third level rather than one of the best teams in the world. We passed around a bit but rarely created anything of note.

At half time, Marcelino subbed off Gameiro for Bats. I was a bit disappointed at that one as I thought this was one game where we could have risked taking off a defender for a midfielder or forward given the man advantage. After another tepid 15 minutes of the second half with Valencia looking clueless as ever, Ebro took the lead with probably only their second chance of the game. Lato fell to the ground too easily, and this let their player power a header home at the back post. Disgraceful stuff. Coquelin came on for Vezo with Wass covering at right back. 

Mina would save us with a couple of good goals. Cutting inside for the first then curling a shot past the keeper for the first. Then for the second scoring a header from a good cross by Wass to save our blushes. 

In terms of players, Jaume had barely anything to do and can't really be blamed for the goal. Vezo was average. Diakhaby had a really good game, was solid and passed the ball out from the back well. Murillo was alright. Lato was a big disappointment, doesn't seem to have progressed from last season and the quality gap between him and Gaya has widened.

Kang-In is a diamond in the rough. Has great potential but lacks experience and didn't look fully comfortable on the wing, he drifted inside at times. Wass had a couple of good moments, the assist and a stinging shot from distance which the keeper did well to save. 

Mina was one of the few bright spots but 4 seasons in would need to show more consistency. Gameiro and Bats did little to impress as usual.


Saturday, October 27, 2018

Athletic Bilbao 0-0 Valencia CF Match Report

Wow what a surprise Valencia CF drew against Athletic Bilbao, who would have guessed huh? I can't believe I'm saying this, but a goalless draw, no one could have foreseen this. Valencia CF drawing against Athletic Bilbao was the safest bet in sports this weekend if you are into betting. If I as a betting man I would have placed in big money on a draw for this game.

I didn't manage to watch all of the match, my stream was lagging so bad it was really frustrating trying to watch, when your stream starts lagging and buffering every 10 seconds or so. From what I saw it seemed like the same old, we had a little different setup with Marcelino opting for Coquelin on the left wing, rather than Ferran, probably the safer bet as Athletic are usually very dominant in the midfield and can bully out unprepared teams in the middle of the field. This brought in some strength in the midfield and tougher defense, but it did not help put in attack at all.

In fact I did not see a direct shot on goal, though again it might be my stream's fault, but there wasn't any sort of progress I felt in attack at all. I might have missed some moments, but overall it felt mostly the same. Again one or two half chances isn't that great, especially when you don't score from them and any team is capable of doing that.

Good thing is that even with this draw we are in a decent position on the table. Essentially 3 wins from leading the table, but we are forced to rely on our opponents getting bad results as well and this just isn't sustainable, obviously. Valencia CF needs to start winning matches if we are to have any chances of getting into the top 4 positions, who even as of right now are quite open to us, but will not be for much longer if Valencia CF doesn't start recording wins.

We also shouldn't be looking at a manager change either, we have not been losing and we haven't been playing particularly bad, its just that we haven't played particularly good either. I'd willing to give Marcelino two more months to improve the situation, we have to start winning that is obvious in order to ease up the situation and bring back confidence. Valencia CF players lack confidence, fans don't have or are losing confidence, the staff are losing confidence, etc... Its a bad cycle that needs to change.

I'd say next week is crucial for Valencia CF, getting a win is a must, getting another draw won't help us, I'd rather see us lose, but play very good and have chances and have good attacking play, rather than play decent and draw again.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Young Boys 1-1 Valencia

Valencia throw away two points and millions of euros in prize money in another incompetent display, especially in the second half.

The line-up contained no surprises. Garay had picked up a minor injury so Diakhaby came back in. I was happy to see Ferran start on the left. The other options were Wass, who's been off form, Coquelin out of position or a Gaya-Lato combo.

The team started well enough. After a few early struggles to adjust to the plastic pitch the team started to find a rhythm and attacked, but it was the usual story, once we got to their final third play broke down and we failed to create any real chances. This was despite Bats looking better this game, taking better touches and passing well, something the team messed up at times.

Valencia went ahead in the 26th minute, Soler providing a great assist with a deft flick-on allowing Bats to round the keeper and finish well from a narrow angle. Sadly, that would be the peak of Valencia. The first half followed most of the same pattern that we have seen game in game out this season cluelessness in the final third.

Predictably, with Valencia failing to build a comfortable lead, many of us were already guessing what would happen next: the team gave away an idiotic penalty, with Captain Parejo the culprit. It's hard to see what the hell he was doing, it looked like a stretching exercise but after the equaliser, their tails were up and they dominated the rest of the encounter. Neto, who was our best player on the night, had to come to the rescue several times. A couple of the saves looked like sheer dumb luck, which we won't have against all teams.

Manchester losing at home to Juventus means that, astonishingly, we're still in with a chance of a last 16 place. But we'd have to beat both Young Boys and MUFC at home and hope MUFC lose at Juve. I just can't see it and neither do I think our incompetent displays deserve it.

After the game Marcelino said he couldn't think of a logical explanation as to why the team had drawn 9 out of 12 games. Is he for real? It's blatantly obvious to all of us why.

Neto is possibly the only player that has been playing at a consistently decent level. The defence have generally been with it too, but tonight was an off-night with many stupid errors. On the plus side as well, Piccini has been improving and may yet find his place in the team: he's gone from bad to average in recent games. Just 2 goals conceded from open play in 9 games shows that there is hope in this bunch but....

...the forward line has just been woeful. They seem to need 10 chances just to even hit the target, nevermind score. Not far behind them in incompetence is the midfield. Kondogbia was disappointing tonight and overall this season. Parejo needs a rest on the bench. There seems to be a disconnect and total lack of understanding between midfield and attack which means we are failing to capitalise on what are good defensive performances more often than not.

But the biggest problem is that we do not seem to be progressing or learning anything. We just repeat the same mistakes over and over again, with the manager often guilty. A predictable playing style (a counter attacking 4-4-2) with no plan B which just about every team in La Liga has figured out how to counter. Too much rotation leading to the lack of understanding between MF and Forwards. Certain players (yes you Dani) who seem to always play regardless of form. At times bizarre substitutions: how many times have we seen a third forward come on with Rodrigo shifted back to the wings. At least four times and IT NEVER WORKS!

I'm far from the sack Marcelino camp and agree with commenters who say it's far too soon, but the man needs to change something up rather than stubbornly repeating what blatantly isn't working as time is rapidly running out, with a quarter of the season now gone. The upcoming stretch of games is relatively easier with a cup game at Ebro in the mix to allow a few experiments, but if things don't improve then, Marcelino's credit at the bank will soon run out and we will hear jeers and whistles soon.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Valencia 1-1 Leganes Match Report

Another matchday another draw for Valencia CF, as the team can't seem to shake off this string of draws with Valencia's attack once again failing to fire up. Unlike some other matches Valencia CF did create some chances, but unfortunately that final ball is severely lacking still. Whether its a shot, a pass, a cross, touch, etc... the team fails to get that last bit right. Failed shots, failed passes, failed touches, etc... we can't seem to make that final ball.

The team was as close to standard as it could, we missed Kondogbia as he arrived late from his international duties, Guedes is still injured so no chance there, while Murillo was also out of the squad, though that isn't something new either. So pretty much the standard team with just Kondogbia and Guedes missing, though in this match Kondogbia wasn't really missed, Coquelin did a solid job deputising and handling the defensive side of things, though truth be told Kondogbia does have a bit more of an attacking presence.

Soler was rested likely for the match against Young Boys in the champions league, but Marcelino was forced to use him as an early sub for Cheryshev who got injured during the match. It was a boring match, with no clear cut chances for either side, though Valencia CF was slightly the better team and looked more likely to score.

In the second half as Marcelino made changes in order to try and score, so Valencia CF can win the match, that is when Leganes scored. Unfortunately this means subbing Piccini for Michy and this weakened our defense, allowing Leganes to become more threatening and from one attack in our penalty area to get a penalty call. The penalty was converted by Gerard Gumbau and Leganes seemed set to win this match.

Marcelino then went in all in with attack as he was now looking to not lose. Nothing worked though and we were seeing our attack fail as it has been failing all season long. Thankfully late in the match Gaya would make a good run towards goal and would receive a good pass by Parejo setting him up in prime position to score, which he did with a bit of luck.

Overall we are lacking penetration in our attack, we lack creativity, we lack build-up play, we lack the final ball. Good thing is that all of La Liga is very competitive and most of our rivals drew or lost as well. The table is very packed, so even with this umptheenth draw of ours we are still not far away from the upper table. With few wins we could essentially be leading the table with the way things are going in La Liga. Hopefully Sevilla and Barcelona draw or lose too, we've still be in decent position to catch up.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Valencia 1-1 Barcelona post-match

It's late, so since we don't have it, a short post for you to give your thoughts on yesterday's game.

I thought we started brightly and looked especially threatening on the left, with Guedes and Gaya combining well, and I hoped this would be one game where we'd take it to them instead of letting them dictate things. It wasn't to be. The injury to Guedes changed the dynamic of the game. Cheryshev was alright, but we seemed to lose the initiative after GG7 went off. A perfect start, with Parejo, who had been involved well in the build-up, putting in a good corner and Garay scoring at the back post after 90 seconds. Messi scored a great goal to level it up after 20+ minutes. We had our counter-attacks, especially in the second period, but they lacked the finishing touch.

It was frustrating at times to watch Barca with their TikiTaka nonsense. Why do so many people say they love watching how Barcelona play? I watch it and see world class players, yes, but they're passing the ball around for 5 minutes, possession for possession's sake. It's boring and I'd rather watch Betis or other teams.  

As ever, it's a fine line, I want to say that we gave them too much respect, same as last season, and sat back too much, but if we'd gone all out would we have got the point? It's always a gamble. So overall, I was satisfied with how we played. Marcelino had clearly done his homework and had drilled into the players what to expect and the result was that, like so many teams their attacks came up against a solid wall. If only we could play as well at the other end, we wouldn't have to worry about top 4.

There wasn't anyone in our team who played badly. Neto didn't have a lot to do, but was well positioned throughout and couldn't do anything for the goal. Garay man of the match, there was one great moment in particular where Messi was making one of his powerhouse runs and Garay anticipated perfectly and dispossessed him. Gaya and Gabriel continued at a high level. Those are our best 3 at the back. Piccini was relatively worse, but not so weak this game. I thought he had a decent game and handled Alba and co well.

Midfield was back to its best. Parejo pulling the strings with some great passes and layoffs and Kondogbia doing the midfield enforcer role. Soler tracked back well and Guedes looked back to his best. Could've been a different result if he'd stayed on. We are just not getting the lucky breaks this season.

Up front, Rodrigo was surprisingly dropped but I thought Gameiro-Bats did well. Gameiro worked hard and did some good layoffs but got caught in moments of indecisiveness which marred a good overall performance. Bats had a good game and if he plays this way the goals will come.

Satisfied overall, but top 4 is not won with home draws and our road ahead looks daunting. Sevilla, our main rivals for top 4 are top and 7 points ahead of us. It doesn't look good with close on a quarter of the season gone but the next 2 months bring an easier road and if we can build on the great performances in defence we have a chance.