Thursday, December 13, 2018

Copa del Rey draw

A bit of luck for Valencia in the draw for the last 16 of the Copa del Rey

drawing Sporting Gijon, the only remaining Segunda division side in the competition and moreover, the second leg will be at the Mestalla. We couldn't have had a better draw if we'd picked it ourselves. Marcelino will know the club well, since he spent 4 years there as a player and 2 as a manager. Like us, Gijon have had a very disappointing season: they recently parted company with our ex-player Ruben Baraja and are languishing in 12th place, having lost in the promotion play-offs last season. Given the weird way this season has gone, and our struggles against Ebro in the previous round, nothing should be taken for granted, but this is a solid draw which increases our chances of progress.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Valencia - Manchester United match thread

Valencia's centenary year was supposed to be a triumphant one, with the team consolidating its place in the Spanish and European elite. Instead, as we all know, it's been a massive disappointment, with a series of limp attacking performances making the team simply hard to watch. I usually stick with the games until half time and then, in frustration, leave the commentary on in the background while I go and do something else and I know I'm not alone. It's only reasonable defence and the fact that traditional rivals like Sociedad, Villarreal and Bilbao have also been doing poorly that has saved us from being in a relegation position. Compared to results achieved in the same games last season we have dropped a point against R.Madrid, 2 against Betis, Celta, Leganes and Sevilla and 3 against Espanyol and Girona, while gaining 1 versus Villarreal and 3 versus Getafe, so even just achieving the same results as last season in the remaining games would leave us outside top four, which is out now and I seriously doubt we can even make top 7 now. 

Worse, the reasons for it don't seem totally clear which makes solutions hard. The team and manager are the same but nothing seems to work. Various players have seriously dropped off on last year's performance, Kondogbia, who was a titan last season, doesn't even make the line-up any more, and few people care, as he's been worse than Coquelin when on, Guedes doesn't excite and Rodrigo has reverted to the Rodrigo of early seasons with us. Marcelino's tactics seem too rigid, lacking a plan B, but I think most supporters know from hard experience that mid-season managerial changes have rarely helped us, while they've definitely undermined our reputation in the long term. There has also been the Zaza question, but I'm not convinced that things would be better with him still with us. He came to us with patchy form, had a brief purple patch, then reverted to type, notching a miserable 3 goals in his last 24 appearances. In his home country, at Torino, he's struggled to make an impact, starting just 3 games, subbing in 11 times, usually in the last 25 minutes and scoring just once. He's clearly as out of form as everyone.

So to tonight's game. Valencia will finish third whatever happens. So a dead rubber game, right? Not exactly, besides the morale boost from a win and the bragging rights gained from sticking it to a much loathed figure like Mourinho, there are short term and long term advantages to winning. 

Short term, a draw earns us €900,000, a win nearly 3 million. There's also the seeding situation in the Europa league. The best 4 third-placed teams will be seeded and the others unseeded. Currently, we have 5 points and of the four groups that have finished, Napoli have 9pts, Inter 8, Bruges 6 and Galatasaray 4. Looking at the groups still to play, it seems that only a win will get us seeded, draw or lose and we will be unseeded in Monday's Europa league draw. Longer term, a win improves our European ranking, making it more likely we can get a better seeding in future, while also earning more money due to a better ranking.

In teams news, the four Gs are out. Gabriel, Guedes and Gameiro are injured, Gaya is suspended. I'd expect to see Neto in goal rather than Jaume, with Lato on the left and Diakhaby and Garay in the centre. Right back will be interesting, it would be a good chance to rest Wass and bring Piccini back  Cheryshev will likely start on the left and Parejo in the centre. Kondogbia should start this one to give Coquelin a rest with Soler making up the right wing. Up front, Bats should start with one of Mina and Rodrigo rested and then coming on later as a sub. Kangin is on the bench and this would be a good time to blood him in the second half. 

I'm not sure how much of this one I'll watch and it finishes late my time so I won't be doing a match report tonight. Please use this thread to give us your thoughts before, during and after the game.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Valencia CF 1-1 Sevilla FC Match Report

Valencia CF has looked out of sorts this season and most of the games have been goalless borefests that haven't brought us many points. Draws are better than losses, but when most of your games are draws with barely any wins, you don't gain a lot of points.

So this was the situation going into this match and you can rest assured that this is still the case after the match against Sevilla FC. Marcelino fielded the usual team, replacing the out of sorts Kondogbia with Coquelin as this is an easy choice, everyone who's seen these two play in the last few matches knows Coquelin is in way better form right now. Everything else was standard and I'd say our strongest team right now. Maybe he could have benched Parejo and started Soler in mid, but we don't actually have any options on the right wing other than Soler, Feran is just not ready yet, Cheryshev has been injured for a long time and he is a left winger, always has been, so no real options there.

Knowing its most likely our best team and going into this match on a semi decent note having went through in the Copa, we had a good chance to win at the Mestalla against a good, but quite leaky Sevilla at the back.

Valencia CF started out strong with the team having a series of great chances from the start. In the 2nd minute Garay headed a free kick ball dangerously towards goal, only for Sevilla's goalkeeper to punch it only into the incoming Santi Mina who's shot was also at the hands of Sevilla's goalkeeper. Once again our inability to score this season rearing out its ugly head.

Valencia CF would have a few long range efforts throughout the first half, with Sevilla only having 1 shot on goal which was also a long range effort. It was a tight match, mostly fought in the final third on both sides, but neither side had clear cut chances. Valencia CF should have scored in that 2nd minute, it would have made the game look much different and would have given us a big confidence and moral boost. Unfortunately that did not happen and the second half looked much more favorable for Sevilla.

After some ineffective moves up front for Valencia CF and loosing the ball a bit too much to be caught out in counter attacks, one such counter would prove fatal as Sevilla would score a goal. While the initial threat was cleared by Garay, the follow up shot was a weird one, bouncing off of the ground and acting as a sort of pass to the oncoming Pablo Sarabia who's light touch flicked the ball just enough to slot it past Neto and into the net.

Valencia CF were now on the back ropes and tried to attack as much as possible, but nothing was coming together and we had discombobulated attacks with no real danger. Marcelino brought in Michy for Santi in a bit to shore up the offense, but I would have liked to see more steel in Marcelino's decision and Gabriel's injury earlier should have served as the opportunity to bring in Michy in place of Gabriel and make a statement that we are going after the win. In this case he chose Diakhaby to replace Gabriel, which in a turn of faith would actually prove right as he scored the equalizer in the final minutes of the match.

Either way, in 99 out of 100 cases that decision would have proved wrong, but today's was Marcelino's lucky day. Earlier on still he added Cheryshev for Guedes, who even though was not particularly effective, would have been smarter to leave him and replace Parejo, move soler in the middle and have Guedes play on the right.

I've been seeing Emery's Arsenal and he seems to be making bold decisions and big statements with his aggressive substitutions and has been working wonders for him and Arsenal. I'd like to see Marcelino be a bit bolder and aggressive with his subs.

Ultimately it was Diakhaby who scored the equalizing goal, it was masterful goal, no chance for the keeper to do anything about it and we get to draw and still be kind of relevant as we are still lingering close to the top teams in the table, but obviously a win would have been obviously better, but also a sign of a changing tie, a sign that the team is becoming more decisive and frugal, being able to win these scrappy games.

That is my 2 cents, tell us what your thought are for this match in the comments section, I'd like to hear everyone's thought's on this match.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Valencia - Ebro (copa del rey) match thread

In the first leg of this round, Valencia scraped a narrow win against a third level side, yet another of many numerous unacceptable performances this season. Tonight offers the team the chance to score an easy win, for out of form forwards like Batshuayi and Gameiro to get some goals and for some of the lesser used or B-team players to try to impress.

Predictably, big changes in the starting line-up

with only Gameiro continuing from last game. Racic gets his first start in a competitive game. Hopefully the team can secure a morale boosting win. Assuming I can get a stream I'll try and update this later, but if not feel free to comment here in the meantime.

Got a stream and wish I hadn't as it was the same old rubbish. If the team had been playing well in general we could have at least written it off as the second string but I'm bored with making excuses. Ebro, a team struggling at the third level, made us look very ordinary at the Mestalla. It was an even first half with Kondogbia coming closest to scoring for us and one of their players almost scoring with a strong shot from distance of the type that we barely ever see our players hit. It took until the 58th minute for Batshuayi to break the deadlock, heading home a good cross from Lato. Bats didn't smile and I think few Valencia fans did either.

Jaume made a couple of good reflex saves. Defence had little to do. Kondogbia had his moments, especially in the first half, but lost the ball too much and is way short of last year's level. Racic looks a handy back up. Ferran didn't do a lot apart from a decent moment of skill near the end. Kangin had a good game and worked hard. Bats despite the goal offered little, losing or delaying on the ball too much. Gameiro was awful, think he didn't touch the ball until the 25th minute and when he went off with a knee injury I don't think many cared unfortunately. Parejo came on to boos.

An in-form Sevilla next and failure to get 3 points and we can definitely kiss any top four dreams goodbye, though they already look a distant fantasy.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Real Madrid vs Valencia CF Match Preview

Tonight Valencia CF is playing against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu in what is one of the bigger matches for Valencia CF. Both teams are coming into this match in mediocre form, so this is truly going to be an interesting and in theory competitive match. Valencia CF has caused a lot of issues for Real Madrid over the past few years and we've also not seen the abrigeous refereeing "mistakes" giving Real Madrid an advantage, so games have generally been closer and way more competitive. We seem to be able to compete and really give Real Madrid trouble time and time again, even ending Real Madrid's 29'th or something unbeaten streak few years ago under Carlo Ancelotti.

This season Valencia CF started in a very slow fashion, far below everyone's expectations after last season's amazing performances and results, especially since after who knows how many season's Valencia CF actually kept the same squad for the most part. The same successful squad was kept, we even spent over 70 million euros to do so, yet the results and performances this season have been subpar.

Over the past months the results have improved and we've picked up a few wins, giving the team a much needed boost and an uplift in the standing in La Liga. In fact even when we weren't getting results and drawing all of our games, we were never far from the 1st place on the table, as the Spanish league has been very competitive this season, with all of the top teams dropping points frequently. Right now the situation is decent for us, as we are only 9 points away from first place, though we need to maintain the good performances and continue to get wins in order to increase our chances for a top 4 position. Right now Real Madrid is a huge obstacle to that, but they've been fragile this season and have had issues all over the pitch, with their defense leaky and attack at times timid.

They've also improved quite a bit over the past month with the replacement of their previous coach Julen Lopetegui, who's had a horrid year, being kicked from the Spanish national team for taking the Real Madrid job, his dream job at the time, to having his dream job turn into nightmare and being sacked after just few short months on the job.

All of this is a premonition of a very interesting and competitive match, hopefully with lots of goals and a win for Valencia CF.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Juventus 1-0 Valencia post-match

Seems like it's only me interested in writing posts here these days.....

Valencia's Champions league campaign ended as it started, a useless attacking display ending in a defeat to Juventus.

Just one change in the line-up, Soler was dropped, Kondogbia returned and Coquelin shifted to right wing. Overall, I was mostly satisfied with the team's play and would give them 6/10 collectively. Neto did very well, the defence too. Wass is not the long term right back solution, but handled his side well, I remember one moment when Ronaldo threatened to go one on one and Wass made a key tackle. Gaya similarly. Paulista continues at a good level, got beaten for the goal but it was a moment of skill by Ronaldo so I can forgive it. Diakhaby I rate as a good pick-up given his age and potential, but he still has areas to improve. His aerial game is decent but could be better and he still doesn't look 100% confident releasing the ball, but he was the closest of our players to scoring with a great header just before half time. Coquelin was good as usual and deserves a starting place. Guedes better this game, but still short of last season's level, Marcelino recently put it down to the fact that he hasn't totally recovered from injury.

The let down was in central midfield and attack. Okay, Parejo wasn't a disaster. He remained calm and got us out of a few jams with his passing but he also screwed up twice, leading to breakaways which could have cost us a goal, one from a rubbish corner.... I said in the last post that he's been poor at set pieces. Kondogbia, on the other hand, was just rubbish. Offered almost nothing, don't know what's happened to him since last season?

Rodrigo and Mina were totally anonymous and bossed out of the game by the Juventus defence.  Rodrigo's substitution was due to injury worries, but it didn't matter as Gameiro and Bats offered nothing after coming on to suggest they'd have been better. Soler, similarly was poor and he looked tired same as the last game.

Final criticism is that I thought we were too negative. I could accept us sitting back in the first half but after going a goal down, we may as well have gone for it: losing 3-0 would have been the same. It's frustrating to lose out to a mediocre Man Utd team who qualified due to a handball goal, but in the end I don't think we can complain too much. The performances this season have not been those of one of the best 16 teams in Europe.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Valencia 3-0 Rayo Vallecano

Valencia finally secure their first home win of the season and do so in convincing fashion, with a 3-0 win over one of the relegation favourites.

Just one change in the line-up compared to the previous game: Diakhaby returned for his first league game since September replacing Garay. Is the latter injured again?

Valencia started well and clearly looked determined to get the 3 points from this one. Soler and Guedes both had chances in the opening 15 minutes but their keeper kept them out. It wasn't all one way and all too often attacking moves from Valencia broke down due to poor movements, decision making and most of all, passing. There were also a few individual errors from Wass, Gaya and Diakhaby which could have proved more costly. Rayo were starting to come back into it. In minute 20 an attack from them hit the post, with Neto saving the rebound.

By minute 30 Rayo were even starting to look a bit better than us when the breakthrough came. Rodrigo nodded a through ball on to the on running Mina, who finished confidently. Bonus point for ditching the LeBron James celebration too!

Valencia had a penalty shout soon after that when Rodrigo tangled with their defender but it was 50/50 situation. Guedes then produced a moment of great skill and acceleration, but messed up the final pass.

The start of the second half followed the pattern of the first, with Valencia dominant. The second came from great work by Rodrigo. It looked like the pass to him had been overhit with the defender shepherding it out, but he sprinted on to and forced a corner. From that, Gabriel chested it down and forced a save from the keeper, with Mina following up to score. For once, Valencia were looking comfortable. Mina was subbed off soon after for a rest and a deserved ovation. Gameiro came on and finished it off. A decent counter attack found him, he played a great ball into the path of Rodrigo and the latter smartly laid it back instead of shooting for Gameiro to wrap up the game.

Wouldn't get too carried away with this one, Rayo, after Ebro, are the weakest team we've played this season, but a comfortable scoreline reflected a good performance, boosts the team's morale and gives us our 4th win in 5 games to quieten veteya ideas.

Neto 7 - one of the few players on the team who've been better than last season, another good performance today.
Gaya 6.5 - limited in attack but did his defensive duties well
Diakhaby 6 - his lack of recent games showed as he made a couple of mistakes, but nothing major
Gabriel 8 - continues to have a great season and has been a rock in defence this year
Wass 6.5 - looks better and more useful in this position, but still not the long term RB solution, did well in attack but looks less secure in defence
Guedes 5 - had one or two good moments but is out of form, lacks confidence and is far from the guy who lit up Mestalla last year
Parejo 6.5 - solid game in midfield, but has lost his free kick mojo
Coquelin 7 - positional play and defensive cover was excellent. Has been in good form since his return and has actually been better than Kondogbia this season
Soler 6 - combined well with Wass, but not one of his better games, looked a bit tired
Rodrigo 7.5 - a great game with key involvement in all 3 goals, just needs to score to build up his confidence
Mina 8.1 - man of the match, confident finishes and good understanding with his strike partner has given him 6 goals in 5 games since his injury return. At least we have 1 striker from 4 who can score.

Gameiro 6 - good cameo, did everything right for the goal
Ferran - not enough time
Vezo - don't think he touched the ball?