Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Valencia CF Transfer News

There has been a lot of development and lots of rumors in the transfers department, so lets tart with the confirmed one, which is that Intel want to keep Joao Cancelo in their team. Reports suggest that Inter wanted to extend the loan deal with a mandatory purchase option at the end of the loan deal, but Valencia CF refused and suggested that they buy the player this summer if they are interested in him.

Joao Cancelo purchase option is at 35 million euros, which is 10 million euros more than Geoffrey Kondogbia, so Inter would have to dish out 10 million euros if they choose to buy Joao Cancelo. This is great news for Valencia CF, as not only are we getting an amazing player already in Kondogbia, but we are removing a high paid player that we have no use for anymore and getting 10 million euros in profit out of it.
This is all but confirmed and unless there is major change within a month, this deal is as good as over.

Valencia CF has also not had to pay for any of the Arsenal transfers as they owed Valencia CF a lot of money from the Shkodran Mustafi deal, so essentially we got Gabriel Paulista and Coquelin for free in a sense.

Some other reports suggest that Valencia CF will indeed purchase Goncalo Guedes for a sum of around 40 million euros, right now this is money we don't have and we still have to sell few players to drop them from our squad list and salary list, but with the fact that we are virtually secure in playing Champions League next season, which in itself would bring in over 15 million euros, this means Valencia CF can spare money on purchase, though how it will reach 40 million euros is still unknown. Reports have it that Peter Lim is negotiating with PSG owners and that a potential purchase would be paid off over 4 years, so each year the club will have to pay 'only' 10 million euros.

What is certain is that Luciano Vietto will most definitely return to Atletico Madrid, the player had an explosive first game for Valencia CF and we all thought we have found another gem that is going to lift up Valencia CF, but the player turned out to be a dud. His performances have not been overall terrible, but he certainly hasn't celebrated himself and is most certainly not even near worth 16 million euros. On the form he's been for us, at best he is wroth 3 million euros. 

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Celta de Vigo 1-1 Valencia CF Match Report

More points dropped for Valencia. We should be able to still maintain 4th place at the end of the season. But I think this makes it a lot harder to finish any higher than 4th. We had a lot of good chances to win this game too, but we couldn't take them.


LINEUP


The attack was lead by Rodrigo and Santi Mina, as it has been the case so often in the season. Rodrigo starting is a given. As for Santi Mina, it could have something to do with recent poor performances by Zaza and Vietto.

Kondogbia regained his spot in the midfield after serving his suspension, however he partnered with Soler in midfield as Parejo was suspended for a silly challenge against Getafe. This was predictable as Soler has played in the center before and to good effect. Guedes started again on the left as his performances have been exceptional. Pereira was a surprise to see in the lineup again after being booed off last game. I had thought Ferran would start for sure but after Marcelino defended Vietto and Pereira in the last press conference, this could've been a vote of confidence in Pereira or an act of stubbornness. Lato replaced Gaya who is out for suspension, Vezo took Montoya's place in right-back as we have seen many times before; and the center pairing was Paulista and Garay. Neto replaced Jaume who didn't really impress last game.

MATCH

The game was even for long periods of play. Both sides played a counter-attacking tactic and the game had a lot of back and forth. However, the first 15-20 minutes was a period of dominance from Celta in terms of possession. The period after Valencia came out and dominated the chances.

The first half had 2 good chances for us. One from Pereira at about the 28th minute following a pass from Guedes, and the other from Guedes himself in the 31st minute following an error by Sisto that lost his team possession.

The first half also had 2 penalty appeals. The first was for Celta after Lato and Wass grappled in the penalty box and the latter was knocked down. The referee dismissed it as both players had their arms around one another, much to the dislike of the Celta players and fans. The other was in our favor after a handball claim against a Celta player who had outstretched hands in the penalty box. The replay shows it was indeed a handball. However, the referee dismissed that claim too. I don't know if it was to even it up after not giving the earlier Celta claim or if he genuinely didn't think it was a hand-ball.

Both goals came in the second half but only after some good chances from both sides. Guedes was played in by Rodrigo in the 51st minute but couldn't convert, while on the other end Cabral had a header saved by Neto.

The deadlock would be broken by Santi Mina, who didn't celebrate against his former club. Soler responded the fastest to a defensive error by Sisto, and played in Guedes, who then played a fantastic lob through ball over the defense to find Santi Mina in space. He took the shot on the half-volley to beat Alvarez in the far post. Brilliant finish! Good to see this version of Santi Mina is still there after his injury.

The lead would be short-lived as Celta would equalize four minutes after. Ruben Vezo pulls down Sisto resulting in a free-kick and a booking. The set-piece was taken by Wass who found Gomez under no pressure from Garay and Mina who were around him. Gomez headed the ball, Neto was positioned to far on the opposite side, got a touch but couldn't stop the ball. I would put most of the blame for this one on the defense. There weren't many Celta players in the box and we had more than enough to mark them but we let Gomez get a free header.

Valencia would get several chances to take the lead in the final ten minutes of the game, shortly after Guedes was replaced by Ferran Torres. A corner from Pereira, found Vezo who had his header saved. Only a minute later, Kondogbia had an effort cleared off the line. Marcelino then brought in Vietto for Mina in the last 5 minutes. Vietto would instantly pick out Ferran Torres in a great position in the box, but the youngster couldn't beat Alvarez who smothered the effort.

GOALS

0-1 Santi Mina (59')
1-1 Maximiliano Gomez (63')

PLAYER RATINGS

Neto 4 - claimed the easy efforts, as any keeper should but his positioning for the goal was partially to blame, mostly a fault in set-piece defending though.
Vezo 6 - was decent going forward, beating a few defenders and creating space. Work just as hard in defense.
Garay 3.5 - poor marking to leave Gomez in space to score the goal. Didn't do much to pressure him, he just ran alongside him.
Paulista 6 - provided good defensive cover, intercepted a few dangerous balls
Lato 3.5 - was not an impressive performance. Looked vulnerable in defense and didn't offer much going forward.
Kondogbia 6.5 - good to have him back to dominate the midfield. Had one good chance on target that was cleared off the line.
Soler 7 - If the midfield wasn't already set, I want to see him again this sort of position. Started the play for the goal by capitalizing on an error
Pereira 4.5 - better than last game, but still invisible for huge periods of the game. Had a decent chance in the first half and almost assisted Vezo with a well-placed corner.
Guedes 6.5 - wonderful technique and vision to set up Santi Mina's goal. Had a few chances himself but failed to convert. If he improves his finishing and decision-making in the final third, he will be one of the best in his position.
Santi Mina 6.5 - great technique for the half-volley goal. Was quiet for a lot of the game but stepped up when needed. His first touch was bad at times this game.
Rodrigo 5.5 - mobile and active as always but didn't make as much of an impression this game.

Subs:

Ferran Torres 6 - his crosses are among the most reliable in the team.  Had a good chance to score but couldn't convert.Made a difference in the little time he came. He should've started.
Vietto N/A - not enough time, almost assisted Ferran for a goal but the latter couldn't convert.


FINAL COMMENTS

More points dropped but still in good position to qualify. We did gain a point but had more than enough chances to claim more with plenty of chances. It was interesting that Marcelino defied fan pressure to play both Pereira and Vietto again. This is either to re-affirm his confidence in them or an act of stubbornness. I hope it's the former. These players do certainly have talent but some players can excel only in certain environments and not in others, as well as certain times but not others. The decision is his whether to play them or not, as well as whether they continue or not. I honestly prefer that we seal the spot and then we can give all the players we want a final trial, a final evaluation, before a final judgement is made.

They were missing Aspas and we were missing Parejo, two key players. The extent of impact of their absence is guesswork but I think we had the advantage. It was an entertaining game from what I saw (my stream lagged a lot, so, sorry if I missed anything important).

We had 3 games within a week which is a taste of what it would be like with Champions League football next season. Squad depth and fitness will make a huge difference and it should influence the training sessions and our activity in the transfer market.

Next week, we are back at home against Eibar. We have home advantage but Eibar is a tough team and shouldn't be taken lightly. They did beat us in the reverse fixture. If Betis lose to Atletico tomorrow and we take points against Eibar we guarantee qualification in front of the home crowd so it should be a great treat.

As usual, please let us know your thoughts of the game in the comments below. 


  • Is Marcelino's inclusion of Pereira and Vietto an act of confidence or pure stubbornness?
  • How did Soler do in a central role and would you like to see more of it? 
  • Does Guedes justify his price tag (35-40 million)?
  • Who impressed? Who disappointed?

All comments, thoughts and opinions are welcome. Amunt!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Valencia CF 1-2 Getafe CF Match Report

Rodrigo's Player of the Month Award was presented to him at the beginning of today's game but the occasion would be overshadowed with a defeat. Getafe completed the double over us today, beating us home and away. Both games went in a similar manner and resulted in a red card. There were many factors that could be pointed out for the loss. We remain within distance of 3rd place with only a 3 point difference separating us from Real Madrid who dropped points as well after a draw against Bilbao.

LINEUP


The lineup featured many changes from last week's game against Barcelona. Both Rodrigo and Santi Mina were benched to give a start to Zaza and an out-of-favor Vietto. The suspension of Kondogbia would've normally saw the inclusion of Coquelin but as he is injured, Maksimovic was given the role. Andreas Pereira was given a chance to start as well; whether this was due to a less than ideal performance from Soler last time, or just simply to give him a final evaluation, it is unclear. With Paulista also suspended, the defense saw Murillo partner Garay in the heart of defense. Gaya remains untouched in left-back while Montoya returned after some experimentation with Vezo in that role last game. A rare appearance from Jaume in goal completed the lineup, as he was chosen to start over Neto. I was comfortable with that majority of the lineup when I first saw it but I had a concern over two positions: Vietto and Maksimovic. The former rarely paid off for us this season, while the latter had extremely big shoes to fill despite showing promise in other positions earlier in the season.

MATCH

The game plan for Getafe was clear from the opening minutes. They would employ a tactic that has often caused us trouble this season: aggressive pressing with emphasis on our key players that transition to quick breaks. It was executed well and paid off, as it has done before. This strategy was helped by having a referee that favored a free flowing game with no interruptions. The play was often allowed to proceed despite harsh challenges. 

Within 16 minutes, the aggressive pressing from Flamini won the ball back from Guedes and the ball found Damian Suarez who caught the defense off-guard with a through-ball to find Loic Remy who took one touch to control and another to slot it to the left of Jaume from the inside edge of the box. Garay had stepped up and was caught by surprise that Remy was onside and complaining to the linesman but there was no question it was onside. The challenge on Guedes to win the ball back was questionable for me, no matter how many times I watch it I can't see it as a fair challenge. I will accept the bias and say it was 50/50 at best and we were on the losing end of the coin toss.

We would have a bunch of half-chances with a header from Maksimovic following a corner, as well as another closer header from Zaza from a free-kick that both failed to hit the target. A poor first-half overall.

The second half would start in an unfortunate manner as Getafe extended their lead. Gaya went forward to press in the opposing half and was caught out of position as the ball was played forward. Murillo went wide to cover for him but Molina would get by him with ease and carry the ball to the edge of the box drawing the attention of the defenders and Maksimovic who also tracked back. This left Remy on the edge of the box with space and he was spotted by Molina who picked him out and Remy would beat Jaume again from range. 

Getafe would have the chance to extend their lead to 3 within a few minutes. A long diagonal ball from Getafe was headed down by Gaya to Pereira who was slower to react than Damian Suarez. The Getafe player then played a through ball for Molina who dummied Murillo and had the net at his mercy but skied the shot.

Marcelino got fed up and resorted to his substitutions, using all 3 at once. Vietto, Pereira and Maksimovic were replaced by Rodrigo, Ferran Torres and Soler respectively. It was interesting to see the fans' jeering and booing at the players who were substituted as their performance was deemed poor. 

The effect of the change would be instantaneous with Valencia playing significantly better. Rodrigo, especially outdid himself, linking up with players all over. He was mobile and created a lot of space. It would take him only 7 minutes to find a goal. Montoya played a one-two with Parejo on the right and the former then found Rodrigo at edge of the box who took a shot as he was turning and beat Guaita with a spectacular finish. Credit to Rodrigo not only for the great finish but by making himself available for the pass and getting into position. A great example for mobile play. 

Valencia would get another good chance with Ferran Torres crossing from the ball from the right, which was met by Zaza who mistimed his jump and missed a great chance. A few minutes later, a run into space from Guedes would be picked out by Parejo. Guedes had tons of space to make it through to the box but was tactically taken down by the Getafe right-back, Djene. He made no contact with the ball, had his studs up and took a player who was just about through onto goal out and yet the referee deemed it only worthy of a yellow card. I don't understand why Guedes does not get the same protection from the referee as other players. He was absolutely battered this game and could've very well have been seriously injured but it often went ignored, especially in that instance. I have no doubt it should've been red. 

Unfortunately, towards the final minutes of the game with continued dominance from Valencia, Parejo decided to foul a player off the ball after the referee seemingly ignored a challenge on him. This was also in the midst of a great move by Soler to get the ball forward, however the referee stopped play, red carded Parejo (straight red, not second yellow). The referee also booked the Getafe player for his previous challenge, (guessing he played advantage). Totally bad decision from Parejo, who had played very well today only for it to fall apart at the end. The challenge on it's own was worthy of yellow but accompanied by the fact that it was off the ball and with the intent of retaliation, the referee deemed it a red-card offense. With 10 men and 5 minutes remaining, it would be tough to equalize against a well-organized Getafe team and Valencia would concede the loss.

GOALS

0-1 Loic Remy (16')
0-2 Loic Remy (48')
1-2 Rodrigo (69')

PLAYER RATINGS

Jaume 3.5 - despite Remy being given space in both goals, they were both from distance and maybe he could've done a bit better.
Gaya 4 - decent going forward and linking up with Guedes, caught too far forward for the second goal.
Murillo 3 - beaten too easily for the second goal and again for a would-be third goal if it wasn't a miss
Garay 4 - lost track of Remy for the first goal, other than that looked solid
Montoya 5 - good link-up with Parejo for the build-up to Rodrigo's goal. Not much trouble from his end in defense. 
Maksimovic 2.5 - again he had big shoes to fill and I don't think he could make anywhere near the impression that Kondogbia or Coquelin would have in this role. He's more suited in creative roles.
Parejo 5.5 (6.5 without the red card) - He was having a great game, with reliable passing and retained possession well. Very unprofessional as captain to get sent-off at such an important time for an off-the-ball challenge.
Pereira 2.5 - he seems very lethargic and lackluster. He doesn't look like he has the motivation and hunger we saw at the beginning of the season. Also looks frustrated, don't know if it is out of self-reflection or entitlement.
Guedes 7 - great game and was a constant source of trouble. He always gets dealt with using aggression and understandably so as he is difficult to stop. My only problem is that he seems to hold on to the ball a little too long before playing a pass or shooting. 
Vietto 2 - really not showing any of the abilities I know he has. Needs to be more mobile and active but seems to have lost confidence and know he's on his way out.
Zaza 4 - made a mess out of a great chance by mistiming his jump after a great cross from Ferran. I didn't see much of the pressing game and work ethic that I admire him for this game.

Subs:

Soler 6 - looked great in a central role. Great job to win the ball back and start a dangerous run, however, we won't know how it ends since Parejo's challenge stopped the play. 
Ferran Torres 6 - definitely talent to be cultivated here. Got into dangerous positions and delivered some useful crosses.
Rodrigo 7.5 - amazing skill for the goal, not only the great shot but to move off-the-ball into space. He seems to gain new skills every game and was definitely a game-changer today. Mobile, quick, and great work ethic.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Getafe played better for the majority of the game. They deserved their 2 goal advantage for the way they were playing and could've had a third. The aggressive style of play is, as we discussed many times previously, one of the ways to deal with a counter-attacking team. I always appreciate a referee that likes to maintain the flow of the game and doesn't stop the game as it gets frustrating for viewers. However, at times, it was too much. The leniency on the challenge on Guedes was the incorrect decision in my opinion but we don't know the degree that such a decision would influence the game. It would give us a better chance for sure, even if the Parejo suspension would follow. However, it remains undeniable that we weren't at the level of a third or fourth place team in La Liga should be at today. 

Another take-away is the importance of Kondogbia and Coquelin's position in midfield. We are blessed to have two high quality players in that position and this is an unfortunate instance where they were both out, for suspension and injury respectively. I think at this time of the season now, we and the coaching staff should have a better understanding of which players we want to keep and which players are better off to be loaned, replaced or having their loan spell be the end of their time here. We have 5 games left to play and, assuming Betis win tomorrow, we need to win 2 of the 5 games to guarantee qualification. With the games at hand, we have no excuse. 

Next week's game is away at Celta and we have to play without Parejo as he will certainly face suspension. Will be great to have Kondogbia back though. It will certainly be a tough game as they have troubled many of the top teams and Aspas is on blazing form. 

As usual let us know your thoughts about the game in the comments below. 
  • Was the challenge on Guedes red-card worthy? 
  • Do we need more protection on our players?
  • How should we lineup next week without Parejo?
  • Which players are irredeemable and should be sold/let go?
  • Who impressed?
  • Who disappointed?
All comments, thoughts and opinions are welcome!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

F.C. Barcelona 2-1 Valencia C.F.


Whenever we play Barcelona, especially when we play at the Camp Nou my first hope is that we do not get overrun and beaten by a high score. It never happens in the league but I still get concerned.
Today again, we gave a good account of ourselves and proved it is no fluke that we are up near the top of the league.

We surprisingly started again without Murillo with Vezo taking the right back position and Garay and Gabriel centre defence and Gaya on the left.  Soler was retained on the right with Kondogbia and Parejo central with Mina up front with Rodrigo. Barcelona were looking to break the La Liga record of 39 games unbeaten and had put out a strong team as can be expected.



 Valencia started lively enough with Guedes and Gaya causing all sorts of problems for the home defence and Pique was soon booked for pulling back Guedes when he was on a run. Unfortunately Kondogbia was booked soon after for a robust high tackle.


On minute 15 Valencia went behind when a great through ball from Coutinho found Saurez who tapped home from a tight angle. Maybe Neto could have done more to keep it out but now it is 1-0.
Soon after Gudedes was unlucky with a shot that was just wide. Then it was the turn of Rodrigo after a poor clearance to bring off an incredible save from Ter Stegen to push his hard drive onto the crossbar.  Rodrigo could have had at least 2 goals with a bit more lethal finishing but it was not his day.




In the second half both teams were swapping blows and goal chances were made at both ends. Then Rodrigo again was thwarted by Pique clearing a goal bound shot almost off the line. It was not going to be our day today.

Goal 2 came after 53 minutes when, of all people Umtiti, got to a corner first to beat Gabriel in the air and Neto at his near post again for his first of the season. Maybe everybody was concentrating on Pique and forgot about him.





Four minutes from time Gaya was fouled in the area by Dembele and Parejo stepped up to take the kick. His low shot was hit home rather luckily as Ter Stegen seemed to have it but it squirmed under his body.  It was no more than Valencia deserved for the opportunities they they had. On another day it was a game we may have won had we taken all the chances that arrived.

Maybe though a 2-1 defeat was perhaps a fair reflection on the game as they also had opportunities which with either poor finishing or good goalkeeping kept the score down.

All in all,  not too disappointing IMO we gave a good show and already we are almost guaranteed Champions League so not too worrying. A win on Wednesday against Getafe should lift any bad feelings about the defeat. Yellow cards for Kondogbia and Gabriel means that they will miss the game on Wednesday.  

Another important fact is that this season we have failed to beat any of the other top 3 teams although have picked up creditable points at home to Barca 1-1  Away to Real Madrid 2-2 and away to Athletico Madrid 0-0.

Player Ratings.

Neto 5.5   Made some good saves but maybe could have done a bit better on the goals he conceded.

Vezo 6.0  I always want him to play well and today he defended very well as usual. Unfortunately his ball out still leaves a lot to be desired and he gave away silly passes when he had time to pick out his man. Both goals conceded came from the other side.

Garay 6.5  Played his usual confident game and did not make any errors that I can recall.

Gabriel 6.0  good solid game apart from maybe could have done a bit more on both goals as they came by him/

Gaya  7.0  Solid performance and he is really back to his best form now. Worked well with Guedes down the left.

Soler 5.5  Again another disappointing game and maybe he is distracted by a possible summer sale, If so he needs to concentrate or he will be going nowhere.

Parejo 7.5  Somebody said he doesn't play well in the big games. I think again he proved that he does play very well and was outstanding today

Kondogbia 8.0  Anything Parejo can do I can do better. Difficult to choose between them but Kondogbia wins it for me. He was everywhere winning balls and laying off passes. I wonder if he will be sold for silly money in the summer. I hope not but they all have a price.

Guedes 7.5  Another outstanding performance and unlucky not to have scored a goal or two. Getting back to last years form now.

Rodrigo 7.0  Do you score him low for missing chances or high for being there and making them and working hard. Could have had 2 or 3 goals today and maybe should have had.

Mina  4.5  Poor performance and back to his old self of falling over all the time and mis- controlling the ball. A long way off being good enough today.

Subs 

Pereira  for Guedes  69 mins
Vietto  for Mina       71 mins
Zaza   for Rodrigo   80 mins








Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Don't Forget Us


Alvaro Medran 24yrs

Signed from Real Madrid July 2016 for 1.5 million euros and contract here until June 2020.
Currently on loan at Alaves until June 2018.

Is he playing well ?  Unfortunately no.  Not being used nearly enough and perhaps will be released by them or maybe another loan deal, but unlikely. A promising player who has failed to live up to his expectations so far. Seems to do some good passes but never seems to take command and direct the play.

At an age now where we should be seeing him at his best and therefore decisions have to be made in the summer to keep him or get rid.


Fabian Orellana 32yrs

Signed from Celta Vigo for 3million 2017 and currently on loan at Eibar.

There is an agreement that he would sign for them for 2 million at the end of this season if they remain in La Liga.  It looks like they will be staying with the big boys and as he is playing well it appears his destination is Eibar for next season.

Started off well for us but fell out of favour and is now outside of our plans.  


Zakaria Bakkali  22yrs

Came on a free transfer from PSV Eindhoven and currently on loan at Deportivo La Coruna until June 2018.  He has a contract at Valencia until 2020.

Is he playing well.  New manager Clarence Seedorf seemed to like him and gave him plenty of playing time when he first arrived.  Unfortunately he looks the same as he did at Valencia. Explosive running power and good crossing ability.  However, he is lacking on getting back to defend and gives the ball away too easily. I have seen him play many times and not impressed.

I do not see him changing and I think he is not what our manager is looking for.  Alaves should stay up now and again a decision needs to be made what to do with him. He has to go I think.


Aderllan Santos 29yrs

From Braga 2015 for 7 million euros and contract at Valencia until June 2020 but currently on 
loan to Sao Paulo in Brazil until December 2018.

It appears he is not getting any game time at all in Brazil therefore a big problem in December as to what to do with him.  He came with a good reputation but apart from a few occasions failed to live up to it.  Massive mistake paying that sort of money.


Nacho Gill 22yrs.

Local player who came up through the club system.  

Has a contract here until 2020 and currently on loan at Las Palmas until June 2018.

I have seen him play many times for Las Palmas on TV but he always looks too weak too small and easily dispossessed.  He has been given many opportunities but failed miserably to impress. 
Las Palmas will go down this season and maybe he will stay and play in the Segunda



Eugini Valderrama 23yrs

Contract here until June 2019 and currently on loan at Cadiz CF in Segunda until June 2018.

Another player not living up to his expectations. Cadiz are in line for possible promotion to La Liga but Eugini is not starring in the team enough. We will have to wait and see what becomes of him.

Summary.   Very disappointing news unfortunately.  Nobody except Cancelo is going to bring in any decent money or looks as if he has a future with the club.

What are your views guys. I hope I can be proved wrong by one or more of theses players ?



Monday, April 9, 2018

Valencia CF 1-0 CD Espanol

With Valencia coming into this game knowing that a win would take them into 3rd place above Real Madrid there was a little bit extra to play for knowing that Champions League is almost a certainty.

Valencia unbeaten in the league since the 1-0 defeat at Athletico Madrid over 2 months ago and only conceding 1 goal in the previous 5 games.  Espanol this year have beaten Real Madrid and Athletico Madrid and drawn with Barcelona so they can turn it on against the big clubs.

Valencia started slowly and Espanol were making chances early on.  Rodrigo broke the deadlock when connecting with a great cross from Guedes made no mistake to put the home side a goal up. Gerard Moreno though was a little unfortunate to be ruled offside to level the score soon after.






It wasn't the best spectacle for the slightly disappointing 36,300 spectators but there were many chances mostly against the Espanol goal where Pau Lopez was having the game of his life keeping out long shots from Valencia and keeping them in the game.

There were many mistakes from both sides and for long spells you could have been forgiven for doubting that Valencia were near the top of the league with their scrappy play.  However, we are not there just by luck and there was a lot of hard work from our players all over the pitch, closing down and preventing the visitors from getting too close to our goal.  A problem I noticed was how many silly free kicks we gave away in dangerous areas. Do that next week against Messi and things could turn very messy for us.







Kondogbia was having another great game and at times Guedes was showing signs of his early season form tearing into the Espanol defence.  The whole back line were coping well and often the Catalans were forced into playing the ball back to their keeper because they were pressurised and there was just no way through.


As normal when a team is winning by the one goal we were called to defend in the final minutes as Espanol poured forward hoping to snatch a late equaliser, but it was not to be and the fans went home again happy with the result if not exactly excited about the performance.

PLAYER RATINGS.

Neto 7   Was called on a number of times to make good saves and has answered yet again his critics to prove he is a top keeper

Montoya 6  Had a good solid game and again shown that the questions being asked about his ability have been unfounded.  Unlucky with a blistering long range shot that tested Lopez.

Gabriel  6  Solid performance again helping to keep another clean sheet. Again he has his critics but 1 goal against in 5 games speaks for itself.

Garay 6  Like Gabriel solid but made a couple of errors, luckily not leading to anything.

Gaya 7   One of his better games, full of running. At one stage he had a good shot blocked and when they broke away he was back making a sliding tackle in his own area.

Guedes 7  Getting back his old flare and making amazing runs at defenders. Made the goal for Rodrigo with a great cross.
Parejo 6 The usual Parejo making good passes and controlling the middle but looking a bit too lethargic at times and a bit too casual.


Soler 5  Too many mistakes for the local hero.  I do not know what is wrong with him at the moment although he did put a nice ball on the head of Rodrigo to nearly score. Maybe should have been replaced earlier by Pereira.

Kondogbia 8  Awesome game yet again, so strong and great vision for the pass. Unlucky with the booking after the ref allowed a free kick taken in the wrong place by Espanol.

Rodrigo 7  That man again getting his 5th goal in 5 games, amazing run of form. I said on here at the beginning of the season this would be his year and what a year it has been. Also he looks to have improved his overall game.

Zaza 5  Not a good game for him overall. I cannot recall too many chances but had one good shot well saved.

Subs 

Pereira,  Mina and Torres not on long enough really to evaluate.















Thursday, April 5, 2018

Remember Me ????


Aymen ABDENNOUR aged 28yrs


Cost  22,000,000 Euros  August 2015 from AS Monaco.

Where is he now ?   On loan at Olympic Marseille until 2019 but with an option to cancel in June 20018.

Is he playing well ?  The answer to that is NO.  He had a decent game in the middle of January 2018 against Strasbourg but was only playing regularly up to middle of December 2017.  It seems as though they will cancel his loan in June 2018 but he is still contracted here until June 2020.

So what now ?   So, we hope that maybe Marseille pick up some injuries and he can get back in the team. Maybe that could give him a chance of appearing in the World Cup for Tunisia which might boost his value, or of course he might play badly and nobody will want him.

Summary.   Looks like we will take a big hit on him whatever happens therefore we can just pray that there is somebody out there with loads of money who will take a chance on him, maybe China ??

UPDATE.

Information from the club today suggests that the deal with Abdennour is that only if both parties agree he can be returned to Valencia this June.  He has stated he wants to continue with Marseille to prove himself.  So that means that if Valencia don't want to take him back he is obligated to remain in France for another season.
That of course poses the dilema that he will then only have one year left on his contract.  The gamble then is, do we take him back and hope to sell him this summer or do we force his stay in France and risk getting less or nothing back on a transfer in June 2019 which could also sour our relationship with Marseille.





Luis NANI aged 31yrs


Cost 8.5 million euros from Fenerbache July 2016.

Where is he now ?  On loan at Lazio until June 2018.  Contract at Valencia to June 2019.

Is he playing well ?  No not really.  Not playing regularly and doesn't seem to be impressing much.  Getting used for the final minutes perhaps to waste a bit of time when they are winning a bit like Alcacer at Barca.

So what now ?   He had refused an offer of going to China but maybe he will change his mind now as he will know, like Abdennour, that he has no future here. Hopefully gets picked for Portugal and can impress in World Cup but that looks unlikely with young players coming through and impressing.

Summary.   Another waste of money but who knows, maybe we can offload him for a small sum and save on his wages.  Would be very surprised to see him in our shirt again.



Joao CANCELLO 23yrs


Cost 15,000,000 from Benfica July 2015.

Where is he now ?   Inter Milan on loan with buyout clause of 35,000.000.

Is he playing well ?  You bet !   A real success story and it looks as as if Inter will pay the buy out option. He is not only playing regularly but very popular with the fans and management after a slightly troubled start. With Kondogbia and Murillo coming the other way a deal will hopefully be worked out to make everybody happy, including the FFP.

Summary.  At least a bit of good news. I don't think we should criticise too much the bad signings as all clubs take a  gamble when signing players and they don't always work out.

I am sure if I have got any facts wrong somebody will put me right.

So what do we think ?  Is there a place for Nani in the team. Abdennour ?  can we use him anymore ?

Some more faces next week




Sunday, April 1, 2018

Leganes 0-1 Valencia

The international break was a good one for Valencia, with Parejo finally realising his dream of playing for the Spain national side and Rodrigo staking an even better claim to play in the world cup, scoring Spain's only goal against Germany. The team usually does well after such breaks and continued that run today, scoring a hard fought win over their favourite whipping boys (played six, won six) Leganes in a scrappy game.


The team selections have been predictable this year. The only questions are usually who will play right back and who will partner Rodrigo up front. Vezo was preferred in the former role and Mina was judged not to be fully fit, so Zaza started again. The one surprise was Jaume starting only his second league game of the season (away to Sociedad was the other.)

Leganes have gained a reputation this season for being a tough side to break down and this was clear to see today. They played 5-4-1, defending solidly and denying Valencia space. For our part, our defence was also really well-drilled and organised. It was our attack that was a bit of a letdown. We never got going and it wasn't helped by Leganes committing a number of niggling fouls as soon as we crossed the halfway line.

In the 8th minute Zaza put us ahead. Rodrigo cut back nicely to Soler and his centre provided the Italian with a tap-in. In real time it did look offside, but the freeze frame on the replay showed that Soler had timed his run perfectly. Unfortunately, the linesman put his flag up. A shame for many reasons, a goal would have opened up the game nicely. As it was, the game after that was mostly a turgid affair. Lots of fouls from Leganes to break up the play, with Valencia eventually doing the same when it became clear that the referee wasn't going to produce any cards. Both goalkeepers could have brought a chair along as neither had much to do. Jaume was forced into his first save in the 30th minute and a few Valencia attacks broke down.

Half-time, little to write about. Next 15 minutes.... the same. A 0-0 draw looked a strong possibility until Valencia finally broke the deadlock in the 62nd minute. The Leganes player took too long on the ball, always a mistake when the machine Kondogbia is nearby. He stole the ball, Parejo toed it to Rodrigo and he took a touch outside the area and beat Cuellar with a low shot inside the near post. Valencia had just about edged the game and Leganes had looked toothless in attack, so it was probably fair.

There were only two real incidents after that. Jaume hadn't looked secure in the air the whole game, punching a few balls he should have caught when under no real pressure. He fluffed a cross and Leganes should have scored from a pull back, but Gaya blocked superbly. Late on, Leganes had a penalty shout when Pereira may have handled. It would have been harsh and the referee waved it away.

A dull game overall. Valencia do well against free flowing teams (like Betis) where we have space to counter-attack but we still have work to do on breaking down scrappy ten-men-behind-the-ball teams like this, where we often look uninspired. I'd have tried a few more shots from our midfielders, several of whom have an evil shot on them. Nevertheless, credit to the team which has 22 points from the last 24 and got a very important three points which takes us even closer to mathematically certain Champions league qualification, especially with both Sevilla and Villarreal dropping points to give us a monster 15-point lead. Overtaking the Madrid teams remains doable and the 77-point record as well: the team has the same number of points that Nuno had in 2014-15 and only one fewer than Benitez had in 2004 at the same stage.

PLAYER RATINGS
Jaume 4 - the weakest link at the back, never looked secure with aerial balls and punched when he should have collected
Vezo 6 - not a right back, but equipped himself well
Gabriel 6.5 - solid presence in defence and passed out well
Garay 6 - a good game, cutting out any danger before it developed
Gaya 6 - had a couple of key interventions, most notably near the end when he blocked a certain goal
Soler 5.5 - had a good assist ruled out but struggled overall against tough defence
Kondogbia 8 - player of the season would be between him and Rodrigo for me, always a dominant presence in the centre
Parejo 6 - struggled to get involved as he was tightly marked but passed well when he was involved
Guedes 5.5 - did well in the first half but faded after that, no surprise when he was replaced
Rodrigo 7.5 - was closed out for most of the game but made the difference when he had to. Having an excellent season.
Zaza 6.5 - had a goal incorrectly ruled out and worked hard as always

SUBS
Ferran 4.5 - barely noticed him after he came on
Vietto 5.5 - made an effort but no noticeable increase in quality and is clearly on the way out
Pereira N/A - overall similar to Vietto, has shown the odd flash of potential this season, but nowhere near enough for us to commit any significant amount into buying him