Sunday, November 22, 2020

La Liga Matchday #10: Deportivo Alaves SAD 2 - 2 Valencia CF Match Thread

 NEWS

During the international break, Gaya was involved in a heavy collision in the game against Switzerland. This caused him to get substituted early with a head injury. Despite looking serious from the pictures, the player recovered and played a few days later in Spain's dominant 6-0 win over Germany, assisting 2 goals in the process. His team topped their group in the Nations League.

Elsewhere, Cheryshev managed to score one goal for Russia but his team suffered two defeats, a close on against Turkey and a heavy one against Serbia,

Back in Valencia, there were developments as well. Joey Lim was recently announced to join the board of directors, adding yet another voice of Peter Lim in the board room. 

Also, a new clause has been proposed about the requirements to attend a shareholder meeting. Previously, only 9 shares were enough to grant access to the meeting. This could change on December 11, where the number could see a  jump to 3,598 shares. People with shares less than that must aggregate together to reach the number and delegate a representative among them to attend on behalf of the group.

In addition, Valencia presented some numbers with regards to the financials of the the past season and this one. The highlights are as follows:

  •  Valencia recorded a loss of around 8 million euros in the 2019-20 season despite 60.8 million euros gained from reaching the Round of 16. 
  • For the 2020-21 season, the budget will see a drop from 172 million euros (2019-20 season) to around 119 million euros
  • For the 2020-21 season, the income from TV rights will increase from 74 million euros to 89 million euros.
  • For the 2020-21 season, the amount of money spent on the workforce will drop from 97 million euros to around 70 million euros.
  • For the 2020-21 season, the expected deficit is 26.4 million euros
  • As a result, there is expectation that 41 million euros of income needs to be generated through sales, of which Kondogbia's sale will go towards.
La Liga announced the wage spending of clubs with Valencia dropping from 5th highest (177 million euros) last season to 7th season (103 million euros)

On the topic of the plan to repurchase Valencia, the Libertad Valencia group has managed to raise 1% of the value of the club's shares.

With regards to player contracts, Kang In has put his contract talks on hold while Yunus Musah is on track to renew. The club also has plans to renew Facu Gonzalez, a promising 17-year old Uruguayan defender from the academy, with 2 clubs already reportedly willing to match his release clause in the next transfer market (one in La Liga, one in Premier League). 

There were discussions of the national team of choice for Yunus Musah. He holds a dual passport (USA, England) but he is eligible to play for Ghana, Italy, England or the USA. It was recently reported though that should he choose the USA and with the Brexit cut-off date of December 31 approaching, it would be make him a non-EU player. Valencia has a limit of 3 non-EU players and those slots are currently occupied by Maxi Gomez, Kang In Lee and Gabriel Paulista. This has already caused Valencia to miss out on some signings in the transfer market. Should it happen that he does become a non-EU player, the remaining approach would be to apply for an Italian passport.

Finally, there were words from multiple people on the current situation in Valencia. Marcelino has criticized how management tells Gracia one thing and then does another. Amadeo Salvo has called the management not good and ruled out a return at the current moment. Murthy has said that the toxicity in the dressing room has been eliminated. He also said that he understands the current tension between him and the coach and that the club is bigger than any single person. Javi Gracia responded in the press conference by saying that he does want to be distracted and the statements don't help him.

PREVIEW

Alaves come into the game on the back of a 1-1 draw away from home against Levante. They took the lead early in the game but were then reduced to 10-men with a red card in the 34 minute. They conceded 5 minutes into the second half and managed to hold on till the final whistle.

Valencia produced a great display to beat Real Madrid 4-1 at Mestalla last fixture. Madrid went ahead early but Valencia turned it by forcing a penalty and an own goal out of Real Madrid. The second half saw Valencia pressure Real Madrid and win two more penalties. All three penalties were converted cooly by Carlos Soler for his hat-trick.

Alaves are currently 15th with 9 points in 9 games while Valencia are 11th with 11 points from 9 games.

FORM

Alaves: DDWLW
Valencia: WDLLL

SQUAD

Diakhaby, Mangala and Maxi Gomez are all still out with injuries. 


FIRST HALF

2' - Goal for Deportivo Alaves. 1-0. Corner delivery from Lucas Perez is volleyed by Navarro past Jaume. Navarro had wait just outside the box and made unmarked run to meet the corner.
14' - Penalty awarded to Alaves. The home team exploited the space left behind Gaya to counter attack, finding Navarro out wide. Guillamon attempted to stop him but he was beat and Navarro got into the box before being taken down by the youngster.
16' - Goal for Deportivo Alaves. 2-0. Lucas Perez converts the penalty. Jaume guessed the correct direction but the penalty was well-taken into the top corner.
37' - Yellow card shown to Florian Lejeune for a heavy challenge on Gameiro
45' - One minute added by the referee for stoppages.

SECOND HALF

53' - Yellow card is shown to Guillamon for a foul on Joselu. The referee had initially waived the play to go on for advantage, returning later to show the player the card.
56' - First substitution of the match, Manu Garcia replaces Jota
58' - Double change for Valencia. Kang-In and Cheryshev are replaced by Guedes and Vallejo
61' - There was a penalty claim for an alleged handball by Guedes. Despite VAR calling the referee to check, he maintains his original call that it wasn't a handball.
70' - A goal from Alaves's Laguardia is overturned after he handles the ball in the buildup to the goal
72' - Two incoming changes for Alaves. Guidetti and Sainz come on for Joselu and Lucas Perez
74' - Goal for Valencia! 2-1! Good build up to the goal as well. Gaya found Racic in the center of the field, who then plays a short pass to Soler. Soler plays a through ball to Gameiro who races to the keeper for it and just beats him to it, squaring the ball to Vallejo who had no trouble finishing into the empty net.
77' - Goal for Valencia! 2-2! Guillamon heads Carlos Soler's free kick delivery into the net. There is enough time still to go for the win. VAR reviews for a potential offside but the Alaves player had clearly played Guillamon onside, so the goal stands.
89' - Substitution for Valencia as Gaya appears to have been injured, Toni Lato is his replacement
90' - Eight minutes added by the referee for stoppages

FULL-TIME

Back to old ways. A poor first half performance, a half-time wake-up call, and a struggle in the second to tie the score. There were chances in stoppage time to grab a winner as well but the team failed to take them. Valencia did well to come-back into the game and almost take the win.

Whether the international break is the cause of this or not this time has yet to be seen. Gracia needs to get the team back to the point where they can play with intensity for 90 minutes. The team should be capable of that as we have seen it before. 

The goals and chances in the second half were set-up really well and if the team started off with that level of play, the game would've been totally different. Maxi Gomez should return next week as well which should give Valencia an added edge in attack.

Full-time stats. 13-13 shots, 3-5 shots on target, 34-66% possession, 68-84% pass accuracy

Next game is on Saturday November 28th at Mestalla against Atletico Madrid. The team needs to show the best version of itself that day against a very good team.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

La Liga Matchday #9: Valencia CF 4 - 1 Real Madrid CF Match Thread

 NEWS

Since his transfer, Kondogbia has trained with Atletico and even came on a substitution in their 4-0 win over Cadiz this matchday.

Gracia gave pre-match news conference in which he was asked about whether there would be a winter signing to replace Kondogbia. He refused to answer and said that he preferred to talk about the players he currently has and not what he doesn't have.

The other news revolved around which national team Yunus Musah would play for with some indication that it will the United States National Team.

PREVIEW

Valencia come into this game having played out an intense 2-2 draw at home to Getafe. Javi Gracia successfully got the team to get into the game in the first half and even took the lead with a Yunus Musah goal on the counter. Getafe would struggle to get the equalizer despite Valencia being reduced to 10 men after a 10 minute period where Correia got yellow carded twice. In the last few minutes of regular time, Getafe equalized after Jaume failed to clear the ball from the initial save. Moments later in injury time, Getafe grabbed what they thought would be the winning goal before conceding a late penalty which Carlos Soler converted to give the teams a point a piece.

Real Madrid played 2 games this past week, a 4-1 home win against Huesca in La Liga and a 3-2 home win against Inter Milan in the Champions League. The former of the two games was a dominant display by them going 4 goals up before dropping their guard and conceding a goal in the final 20 minutes of the second half. The latter game saw Real Madrid looking vulnerable for a period as Inter Milan made up a 2 goal deficit to even the game. They would still come out winners after a late goal from Rodrygo in the second half.

Valencia are currently 15th in the league with 8 points from 8 games. Real Madrid are 3rd with 16 points from 7 games.

FORM (all competitions)

Valencia: DLLLW

Real Madrid: WWWLW

SQUAD

Diakhaby will miss this game as he continues to recover from the injury he picked up against Elche. Mangala also struggles with an injury problem and will miss this game. Finally, Cillissen picked up a training injury this week. More tests are required to determine the extent but he will miss this game as well.

Correia picked up a red card in the previous fixture against Getafe and is suspended from this game. Wass is the likely option but Gracia hinted that there were other options as well. In training sessions, Jason has practiced in that role so that could be what the coach is talking about. 

FIRST HALF

12' - Good save from Jaume to deny Modric's shot from the edge of the area.

23' - Goal for Real Madrid. 0-1. Benzema plays a one-two with Marcelo, receiving the ball at the edge of the box and striking it at goal. The ball seemed pretty close to Jaume yet he couldn't save it. May be he could've done better with that but it seems like his vision was blocked.

28' - Penalty awarded to Valencia. Guillamon plays a diagonal ball for Gaya who hits it first time for the cross and it strikes the hand of Vazquez in the penalty area. Carlos Soler steps up to take it.

29' - Goal for Valencia! 1-1! Soler's penalty is saved by Courtois and the ball falls back into play. Soler takes a second try and it hits the post. The deflection falls to Yunus Musah who makes no mistake in beating Courtois. VAR is checking the run of Yunus Musah into the box as he appears to have gotten into the box before the kick was taken.

33' - The goal is overturned and the penalty will be retaken. It appears Vazquez also encroached into the box so a retake is a fair decision. Game is still at 0-1.

35' - Goal for Valencia! 1-1. Soler successfully converts this time, narrowly squeezing it past Courtois. Great confidence from Soler after missing the first time.

40' - Yellow card shown to Soler for a foul on Asensio who had gotten away from him

44' - Goal for Valencia! 2-1! Racic leads the counter-attack for Valencia and picks out a great through ball for Maxi Gomez out wide on the right. Maxi puts in a cross for Cheryshev and hits Varane who, under pressure from Cheryshev, puts the ball into the goal. Courtois attempted to scoop it out but it had passed the line. The play initially moved on but VAR gives the goal to Valencia as an own-goal by Varane.

45' - Four minutes added by the referee for stoppages.

HALF-TIME

A good first half by Valencia. They took the game to Real Madrid and did not look the weaker team. The team learned from the vulnerabilities shown by Real Madrid in the mid-week Champions League fixture against Inter, absorbing the pressure and hitting back with quick counters.

Real Madrid took the lead just past the 20 minute mark with a Benzema shot after having exchanged passes with Marcelo. Jaume, with his vision, block reacted late having initially began diving one way and adjusting mid-way.

It took Valencia only 5 minutes to strike back with Gaya winning a penalty after his cross struck the hand of Vazquez in the penalty area. The penalty was saved, the spilled ball hit by Soler at the post and the rebound scored by Musah. The goal was overruled after Musah encroached into the box before the kick was taken. However, with Vazquez also encroaching the kick was retaken and scored by Soler.

Valencia did not let up the pressure and another counter, this time lead by Racic, resulted in a cross by Maxi Gomez to Cheryshev which was turned in by Varane to his own goal, giving Valencia a lead to take into half-time.

Still a lot of work to do in the second half, no doubt. The team need to continue to maintain focus while attempting to absorb the increasing pressure from Real Madrid. They will no doubt leave more spaces as they try to equalize and go for the win. Valencia must exploit those spaces. 

Valencia have had much success going down the left flank and most attacking plays go through there. Real Madrid have similarly attacked through their own left flank.

Half-time stats. 3-5 shots, 1-4 shots on target, 41-59% possession, 85-90% pass accuracy. 

SECOND HALF

45' - A bad pass from Guillamon to Paulista is intercepted by Vinicius, setting up a 2 v 1 at the back. Jaume is quick to react and clear the ball once before running out of his own box to clear again as Benzema approaches. Great clean-up work by Jaume to mitigate the consequences of Guillamon's mistake

47' - Soler finds Kang-In in a tight pocket in an advanced position. Kang In takes a turn and hits the ball from distance. Courtois just gets his fingertips to it and it changes course to hit the post and out.

51' - Gaya takes on Vazquez and squeezes by him. He finds Cheryshev who plays a pass back in to find Gaya again. Gaya drives forward and attempts another cross to Maxi but Marcelo intervenes and takes out the Uruguayan, winning a penalty.

52' - Yellow card shown to Marcelo for the challenge on Maxi Gomez as Soler steps up to take the penalty.

53' - Goal for Valencia! 3-1! Another confident finish from Soler to extend Valencia's lead. Courois guessed the right way again but it was hit with enough power to beat him.

57' - Isco finds Valverde at the edge of the box, he takes a touch and strikes at goal, Jaume saves but puts it back into play. Vinicius is first to react, takes a touch inside to get a better angle but skies the effort.

58' - Modric threads a ball through the defense, giving Asensio a great chance at goal. Jaume is quick off his line and smothers the effort.

59' - Yet another penalty awarded to Valencia for a handball by Ramos. Cheryshev picks a pass for Musah in the penalty box and as he battles with Ramos, the ball flies into the air and hits his hand. VAR took time to check but it is finally awarded. Yellow card shown to Ramos for the handball.

62' - Goal for Valencia! 4-1! Soler with a hat-trick of penalties, giving Valencia a 4-1 lead! So cool and collected to beat Courtois 3 times. Valencia need to remain calm and focused, they cannot get to excited.

64' - First set of changes for Real Madrid. Odegaard and Rodrygo replace Vinicius and Asensio.

75' - More changes from Real Madrid. Kroos and Mariano Diaz replace Valverde and Benzema

77' - Valencia with their first change, Cheryshev off, Toni Lato on.

80' - Second change for Valencia. Kang In is replaced by Gameiro. The youngster picked up a knock and signaled to the bench for a change. Hopefully, it's not too serious.

82' - Final substitution for Real Madrid. Isco is taken off for Luka Jovic

84' - Yellow card shown to Guillamon for handling Mariano Diaz

85' - Yellow card shown to Jaume for time-wasting

87' - Final set of changes for Valencia. Musah and Maxi Gomez off, Jason and Sobrino on.

90' - Six minutes added by the referee for stoppages

FULL-TIME

Good work by Valencia to hold on to their lead for as long as they did. The team put in a lot of hard work although admittedly there was a lot of luck involved in the result. They do say that luck is opportunity meets preparedness. Real Madrid gave up the chances very easily and Valencia were ready to take the chances they were given. 

There were many protagonists this game. Soler and Racic held their own and bossed against a world class midfield. Soler scored 3 goals today and is really stepping up as a leading figure in this team, taking on the pressure and converting the penalties against a world class keeper.  Gaya caused all sorts of trouble on the flank where most of the Valencia offensive plays occurred. Musah showed speed, power and intelligence to challenge Marcelo and even Ramos when given the chance. Jaume was focused and ready to react, holding the Valencia lead and allowing them to move forward without worry. 

The team performed exactly how Javi Gracia would've wanted them to, soaking the pressure and punishing Madrid on the break when possible. Despite Real Madrid thowing everything at Valencia in the second half, the team looked secure enough to deal with the efforts and the opposition did not look likely to score. All this, against the run of form that Valencia is in.

Full-time stats. 7-16 shots, 4-6 shots on target, 35-65% possession, 77-90% pass accuracy.

While this is a great win against the reigning Champions and an unlikely three points to win, the team needs to carry forward this momentum. This cannot be a one-game performance. The team played great but luck certainly played its part as well. 

There is a break now as the players head off for their international duties. This will give the team a chance to rest after the effort exerted today. A lot players seemed cramped up and picked up knocks. Next game is on the 22nd of November away to Alaves. Amunt!

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Official: Kondogbia sold to Atletico Madrid

Valencia and Atletico Madrid have confirmed the transfer of Kondogbia to Atletico Madrid today. Kondogbia has already passed the medical joined up with his new team.

The player signs for 4 years with a reported fee of 15 million euros with Valencia reserving around 15% of a future sale of the player. For reference, Kondogbia arrived at Valencia in the 2018-19 season from Inter Milan for a fee of 22 million euros, having spent the prior season on loan at Valencia.

When Inter Milan made the sale, 20% rights to future sale of the player were included in the agreement. In this case, however, they would get nothing due to the condition on the previous clause. It only applies if the sale amount is a number greater than 25 million euros.


This signing came about after Arsenal activated Thomas Parey's release clause in the last moments of the transfer market and signed him from Atletico Madrid. To accommodate such late transfers, Atletico were allowed to make a signing despite the closing of the transfer window to everyone else. Kondogbia was interested either for the pay increase or the loss of hope in this project. Either way, he pushed for a way out and has missed the last few training sessions and fixtures with Valencia. His Instagram dig at Anil Murthy signaled the beginning of the end. 

So comes the end of the player's time at Valencia. He has been an instrumental part of the Valencia team with his great work rate and controlling presence in midfield. He was also part of the the team that won the Copa del Rey in 2018, Valencia's most recent trophy in their cabinet. 

Thank you to Kondogiba and best wishes with his new club as well as any future endeavors.


Saturday, October 31, 2020

La Liga Matchday #8: Valencia CF 2 - 2 Getafe CF Match Thread

NEWS

Jose Luis Zarargosi resigned from the Valencia board of directors earlier this week. He had notably made a statement when the transfer market was still open that Valencia would, without a doubt, make a signing during the window. In the weeks to follow, Javi Gracia did not get any signings and it is clear that he remains at the club only to avoid his 3 million euro penalty. Seeing the situation as is prompted the director to resign. The official statement of the club though painted a different picture. It said that the director took responsibility for the failure of his mission in achieving social peace within the club. It should be said that Zaragosi was reportedly one of those at the board of directors who stood against the decision to fire Alemany.

Javier Tebas, the president of La Liga, gave a speech this week at the Universidad CEU Cardenal Herrera higher education facility. The event revolved around the operations of La Liga and its plans for the future. During the event, the situation of Valencia was discussed. Tebas gave a lot of credit to Peter Lim saying: 

"It’s very difficult to evaluate how a club is run without knowing details. When Lim bought Valencia CF I remember that there were 25,000 people who turned out at the stadium to thank him. It seems as if we have forgotten that this man came along and avoided Valencia CF going into receivership -or even disappearing. Peter Lim has my full respect, as without being a Valencian he took this step. After that, there have been things he has got right, and also mistakes that have been made.[Link]

It's funny how his position completely turned around when he was one of those that initially opposed the purchase of Valencia CF by Peter Lim. Further research by one article shows that Peter Lim was instrumental in the opening of the first La Liga office in Singapore - a crucial part of La Liga's expansion plans in the South-East Asian scene. In addition, Peter Lim had reportedly invited Tebas to the Singapore F1 Grand Prix.

The most recent news surrounding Valencia is the closing of a deal between Valencia and Atletico Madrid for the purchase of Kondogiba. As reported by Cadena SER, the deal is a 15-20 million euro purchase deal with Valencia reserving 15% of rights of a future sale. The deal hasn't been confirmed by the club yet but most outlets are reporting this as a done deal. 

PREVIEW

Valencia come into this game on the back of 2-1 away loss to Elche. Valencia was on the back-foot for the entirety of the first half and allowed Getafe to take a 2-0 to the half-time break. Valencia came into the game in the second half and, with the introduction of Kang In Lee, pulled one back through a Toni Lato goal assisted by Kang In.

Getafe suffered a 0-1 home loss when they hosted Granada in their last fixture. The difference between a sides was a penalty in the 3 minute of injury time in the first half which was converted by Granada. Getafe had double the shots but Granada had double the shots on target that game.

Valencia currently sit at 16th with 7 points from 7 games, 2 points above the relegation spots. Meanwhile Getafe are 8 with 10 points from 6 games.

FORM

Valencia: LLLWD

Getafe: LWLWD

SQUAD

With Kondogbia having not trained with the team for the past while, and there being rumors of his departure, it is no surprise if he is off the squad list for the game.

It was reported earlier in the week that Diakhaby would miss both the Getafe and Real Madrid games due to the injury he picked up against Elche.  Esquerdo will also miss this game through another injury.

The good news is that Maxi Gomez has recovered and trained with the team and is available for selection.

Apparently, Javi Gracia has been experimenting with alternatives in tactics. There were talks of a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1, although it remains to be seen what the effect of Kondogbia's departure is on those plans. Additionally, Jason has been tested as a right-back during the training sessions.


FIRST HALF

10' - Getafe with a close chance to score from the corner. The delivery was flicked on to the far post where Olivera meets the ball with a header. He puts it over the crossbar.
17' - A throw-in from Getafe is header into the box and squared towards Cucurella who takes out his marker with one touch. He picks out Olivera to his left with plenty of time and space to pick his spot. Soler intervenes in the last second to block his shot.
22' - Goal for Valencia! 1-0! Musah with his debut goal for the team. Paulista clears the ball the delivery from the short corner with a header that sets up a counter attack lead by Musah and Cheryshev. Musah takes a great first touch to control the ball and chooses to go the distance himself despite Cheryshev being available. He drives the ball into the penalty box and successfully beats the keeper at his near post.
31' - Yellow card shown to Guillamon for tugging at Arambarri to stop his charge on the counter-attack
39' - Kang-In takes out his marker in midfield with a turn and threads a ball through to Gaya on the left. Gaya cuts inside to bypass the approaching marker and returns the ball to Kang In who sets the ball up for Wass to take a shot at the edge of the penalty area. The shot is tame enough for the keeper to save it without much trouble
41' - Yellow card shown to Paulista for a late challenge on Cucho Hernandez. Both central defenders are now on a yellow card for Valencia.
45' - One minute added by the referee for stoppages

HALF-TIME

One of the main problems in previous games was that the team only begins to try in the second half. Today, Javi Gracia successfully got the team to get into the game as early.

Getafe was more dangerous in the first part of the first half with 2 close chances. The first was a miss and the other denied by Carlos Soler. 

Valencia responded after that with a great counter-attack following a clearance of Getafe's corner. Yunus Musah led the break with pace and left his marker behind. Faced with a choice of passing to Cheryshev or taking it on himself, he chose the latter and calmly beat the keeper at his near post.

Valencia would maintain their hold on the game and see it out but not without cost. Both Gullamon and Paulista picked up yellow cards in the process which could come into play with 45 more minutes to play.

Half-time stats. 4-7 shots, 2-1 shots on target, 45-55% possession, 68-70% pass accuracy.

SECOND HALF

48' - Yellow card shown to Correia for a late challenge on Maksimovic
53' - Double substitution for Getafe. Maksimovic and Nymo are replaced by Angel Rodriguez and Timor
56' - Second yellow card shown to Correia for a tug on the shirt of Cucurella. A red card is shown and he leaves the field
58' - Cucho Hernandez forces Jaume to make a save with a shot from the edge of the box. 
59' - First change for Valencia. Kang In Lee is replaced by Uros Racic. Wass takes over Correia's position in right-back and Racic takes over Wass's position in midfield.
61' - Yellow card shown to Maxi Gomez for an arm to the face of Cabaco
62' - Both the referee and the linesman miss a very late challenge on Gaya.
64' - Wass picks out Maxi Gomez who had dropped into midfield. Maxi finds Cheryshev in space on the left flank with great vision. Cheryshev takes a few touches and fires from distance after seeing he has no support. The shot is off-target.
68' - Yellow card shown to Yunus Musah for a retaliatory challenge on Cucurella.
71' - VAR overturns a red card shown to Arambarri for a dangerous lunge at Maxi Gomez. A yellow card is shown to the player instead.
73' - Triple substitution for Getafe. Cabaco, Olivera and Unal are taken off. Portillo, Jaime Mata and Diaby are their replacements.
75' - Yellow card shown to Cheryshev for a tug on Diaby's shirt. Gracia needs to make some changes to take some of the booked players off. A second red would be really dangerous.
78' - Second change for Valencia. Lato comes on for Cheryshev. 
80' - Angel Rodriguez with a narrow miss as he controlled the pass with his knee and volleyed it at goal
81' - A free kick won by Maxi Gomez is taken quickly by Soler and he picks out Maxi in tons of space in the box. Maxi takes to much time on the ball, the defense recovers, so he is forced to pass instead and the chance goes to waste.
82' - Another chance for Valencia on the break. Toni Lato gets to the edge of the box, takes a few touches in an attempt to dummy the defenders before his shot is saved by the keeper. Maxi Gomez recovers the ball and sets up a shot for Racic at the edge of the box but it's hit straight at the keeper.
83' - Yellow card shown to Wass for a late challenge. 
87' - Goal for Getafe. 1-1. Arambarri with a long distance shot at goal that Jaume can only put back into play. Cucho Hernandez reacts first and heads the ball towards goal from a tight angle. Gabriel Paulista tried to scoop it away but couldn't do so successfully.
89' - Yellow card shown to Damian Suarez for a late shove on Racic.
90' - Six minutes added by the referee for stoppages.
90+2' - Final change for Valencia. Jason comes on for Musah
90+4' - Goal for Getafe. 1-2. Angel Rodriguez reacted quickest to Diaby's deflected shot of the post.
90+5' - Penalty awarded to Valencia after Maxi Gomez is taken down by Djene. Yellow card is shown to the player.
90+6' - Second yellow card shown to Damian Suarez for the complaints while VAR reviews. A red card is shown and he leaves the field.
90+9' - Yellow card shown to Jaime Mata for the persistent complaints as the penalty stands.
90+10' - Goal for Valencia! 2-2! Soler calmly slots it past the keeper, sending him the wrong way. Fighting at the net as Valencia try to restart play quiickly.

FULL-TIME

Dramatic ending to a dramatic game. A joy to watch for a neutral no doubt. 11 total cards shown, 9 yellow and 2 red.

Valencia's quest to see out their first half lead was quickly put in jeopardy. With both their center backs on a yellow card from the first half, there was an ominous feeling that a red card was coming, especially given the recent history of these two teams. It would be Correia, however, that would be the one sent off with 2 yellow cards in the span of 10 minutes. This meant Valencia had 34 minutes plus stoppages to play with 10 men and hold their lead. This would test the character and unity of the team.

Valencia coped well given that they were a man down. Wass slotted into Correia's role and Racic, who had come on for Kang In, stepped into Wass' role in midfield. Valencia played with caution, leaving everyone behind the ball with Cheryshev and Maxi Gomez remaining forward. These two would be instrumental to relieve the pressure when the team needed it. They often held the ball up and even began promising counter attacks. Maxi Gomez especially won a few fouls that were essential in relieving pressure. Valencia, meanwhile, continued to pick up one yellow card after the other as they soaked the pressure.

Three minutes from regular time, Jaume spilled the shot from distance and gave Getafe the opening they needed to score. Getafe quickly built on their momentum and got into the box again with Diaby taking a shot which deflected off the post and made its way to Angel Rodriguez who put the ball past the net. 

Just when the game looked over and all Valencia's was set for a heartbreak, a quick restart and delivery into the box resulted in a tackle on Maxi Gomez which was converted by Soler. It was a good moment for the team and Soler himself, as this was a symbolic of his stepping up to take over Parejo's role. 

Full-time stats. 11-16 shots, 5-5 shots on target, 38-62 % possession, 65-77 % pass accuracy.

Next game for Valencia is on Sunday the 8th at Mestalla against Real Madrid.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

La Liga Matchday #7: Elche CF 2 - 1 Valencia CF Match Thread

NEWS

Last week Kondogbia made statements on Instagram condemning Anil Murthy and criticizing his impact at the club. Specifically, he credits him with ruining a winning project and deceiving both coach Javi Gracia and himself. Atletico had given up Thomas Partey to Arsenal very late this transfer window and have been permitted an extension is signing a player due to the special circumstance. They had their eyes on Kondogbia and were hoping to secure a loan deal. It looked like the player himself was interested in the the deal but it was rejected, probably due to the nature of the deal. The club wanted liquidity and believed that they could get a good sum of cash in the form of a sale. 

Before his comments, Kondogbia was beginning to arrive late and miss some parts of training, and now after making the comments he also missed some time in training. The club had originally cited "personal issues" as reason for some of the absences but he also has an injury in his heel. No doubt there were also repercussions to him from the club for making those statements, possibly a fine. While some have said that the comments were unprofessional to make, they do provide confirmation that the players are not happy with Murthy and by extension Peter Lim. They see them as having a negative role in the club.

Speaking of Murthy, he recently gave a speech at an event where Valencia renewed its commitment to serve as a food bank to help with the COVID pandemic. In that speech, he reiterated that he has belief in the squad, and that the changes in the summer were necessary. His takeaway from the Villareal game was that the team was almost ready to compete at the top level. Not many would share his point of view.

The other news this week was the firing of Alex Navarro, the Valencia communications director, who has spent 16 years working in that department. The replacement was readily available. Peter Lim had sent someone from Singapore a while back, by the name of Joey Lim (not related). There were many speculations as to what his role would be. Some rumors said he was there for property management of the old and new stadiums while other speculated that he was there to take over for Murthy. He has now taken over Alex Navarro's role. One more pawn piece for Lim in the club.

PREVIEW

Elche played Alaves away from home in the previous matchday and walked away with a secure 0-2 win. The first resulted from a counter-attack late in the first half that the keeper got a hand on but couldn't keep out. The second was late in the second half from a set-piece, that was headed in.

Valencia played their derby game against Villareal and suffered a 2-1 loss away from home. Alcacer put the home team in front with an early penalty. Guedes leveled the score before half-time with a great piece of individual skill to score from distance. Parejo would grab the winner in the second half with a shot that deflected off Diakhaby and into the goal. 

Elche and Valencia are tied at 7 points a piece in 12th position in the league. However, Elche has only played 4 games while Valencia played 6.

FORM

Elche: WDWL
Valencia: LLWDL

SQUAD

In defense, Mangala has been recovered and joins the squad list for this game. In midfield, Kondogiba's absence continues and Esquerdo is returns from injury. In offense, Maxi Gomez suffered an injury and misses this game.

The big challenge will be finding a source of goals with Maxi Gomez injured. Vallejo has shown that he can be lethal in front of goal but is a different type of player to Maxi. Some reports were saying that Gracia was experimenting with Lato and Gaya on the left and playing Vallejo as a striker.


FIRST HALF

20' - Goal for Elche. 1-0. Josan Fernandes takes on Gaya on the right flank, beats him, cuts inside and into penalty area, making a curling shot that beats Jaume at the far post.
37' - Goal for Elche. 2-0. Josan Fernandes draws the attention of Wass and Diakhaby at the edge of the box, before laying it off for Fidel Chaves who takes the shot first time and beats Jaume from distance.
44' - Yellow card shown to Paulista for retaliation on a challenge from Pere Milla. The referee had whistled for the foul but Paulista still lost his cool and decided to take matters into his own hands.

HALF-TIME

Not a good half by any means from Valencia. The team goes in 2-0 down at half-time with little to no signs shown that they can overcome this deficit.

The first 20 minutes of the game where rather uneventful. The ball travelled back and forth as possession of the ball changed hands over and over again with no real danger. 

Elche would get the first chance of the game as the wing-back Josan made a run forward forcing Gaya to run back and defend while Gaya was drawn away by the winger. Josan managed to beat Gaya and cut into the box and beat Jaume. 

Aside from the goal the game had been roughly even before this. Once the goal came though, Valencia looked really vulnerable for a second. The times that Valencia did get forward they did not look likely to score. The offensive plays are too passive and slow and by the time the players put 2 passes together, the entire Elche team has settled into their defensive positions. The quick breaks we saw from this team in the first few games were nowhere to be seen. This forced the team to go wide to break down the defense. With there being no target man available to pick out with a cross, the play would get stuck there and Elche would get back possession. From the strikers that are available on the field, they all prefer the ball at their feet rather than their head. Even then, there weren't any runs into the box when the ball was in a wide position.

Elche eventually grabbed their second goal through their second wing-back. The first drew away the attention of the defense and then set-up a good shot for the second to beat Jaume from outside the box. 

Major changes are needed in half-time or the result could get much worse.

Half-time stats. 3-1 shots, 2-0 shots on target, 58-42% possession, 85-82% pass accuracy.

SECOND HALF

45' - First change for Elche. Lucumi is replaced by Morente. No changes from Valencia yet but players are warming up.
51' - Musah with a wonderful cross into the box to pick out Gaya, who had gotten there head of his marker. He hits it straight at the keeper though. That should've been a certain goal.
59' - First change for Valencia. Diakhaby is replaced by Guillamon. Diakhaby was suffering massive discomfort as he was hit with a knee to his right thigh.
62' - Second change for Elche. Rigoni is replaced by Kone
67' - Correia does well to dispossess the opposition in advanced position. He passes to Gameiro who finds Gaya wide. Gaya squares the ball for Soler at the edge of the area, who shoots straight at the keeper.
68' - Double change for Valencia. Kang In and Vallejo on, Gaya and Guedes off.
70' - Paulista tries a shot from a long way out and forces the keeper to make a diving save.
73' - Correia plays a one-two with Gameiro at the edge of the Elche penalty area, gets into the box and tries a shot at the near post but it's wide.
74' - Goal Valencia! 2-1! Kang In with a brilliant through ball to find the run of Lato, putting him clean through on goal. He side steps the advancing keeper and calmly finishes into the empty net. Kang In with instant impact off the bench.
75' - Vallejo gets into the penalty area and gets a shot, it beats the keeper but is cleared off the goal-line by the Elche defender. Valencia getting closer.
77' - Yellow card shown to Raul Guti for a tackle on Soler. Great position for a free kick.
85' - Final set of changes for Valencia. Racic and Jason replace Wass and Musah
86' - Yellow card shown to Fidel Chaves for tugging on the shirt of Jason
90' - Four minutes added by the referee for stoppages
90+1' - Second change for Elche. Raul Guti off, Mfulu on
90+3' - Yellow card shown to Barragan for dissent against the referee
90+4' - Final change for Elche. Josan is replaced by Calvo
90+5' - Yellow card shown to Lato for a heavy challenge.

FULL-TIME

It was a decent try from Valencia in the second half but they walk out with no points from this game.

Valencia started the second half with a chance from Gaya that was hit straight at the keeper. Correia's efforts would get Valencia another chance as he dispossessed the opposition in their own half, but the resulting shot from Soler was hit straight at the keeper yet again.

It took Gracia around 23 minutes into the second half to make his first tactical changes, bringing on Kang In and Vallejo. The former had instant impact and set up Lato's goal with a well timed through ball.

Vallejo would get his own chance at goal but his shot was cleared off the line by the defender after he beat the keeper. 

There was a tense few last minutes and eventually Elche saw out the remaining time without conceding.

Despite the general poor performance, this game was lost in the first half. If Valencia played the same way in the first as they did in the second, the scoreline would totally be different. This is an established pattern under the Gracia system where the team almost always struggles in the first half and needs to be woken up in half-time to produce a decent performance.

It was unfortunate to see Diakhaby get injured but Guillamon showed that he can seamlessly fill that role. Mangala is also available if Gracia so chooses.

The team also needs Kondogbia's presence in midfield. Just because using Wass in a central midfield role worked for one game, doesn't mean it will keep working. Hopefully, the situation with Kondogbia can be sorted out soon so he can return to the field.

Correia had a great performance throughout the half and seemed to be doing the work of two players in defense and offense. Kang In also had showed desire and hunger after spending so much time on the bench and looks like he's ready to play again.

Full-time stats. 3-14 shots, 2-4 shots on target, 46-54% possession, 82-86% pass accuracy.

Next game is on the 1st of November at Mestalla against Getafe.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

La Liga Matchday #6: Villareal CF 2 - 1 Valencia CF Match Thread

 Let's go over some news as the team prepare for matchday 6.

Cillissen, Gaya, Guillamon, Wass, Cheryshev, and Maxi Gomez all travelled to play for their respective national teams. From those who went on International break, Maxi Gomez had the best time, scoring the winner in a 2-1 game against Chile. Cillissen also had a great game against Italy with the Netherlands, putting in some crucial saves to keep the game even.

Meanwhile at Valencia, there were rumors about a possible sale for the club. Andrea Radrizzani, the owner of Leeds United, was said to have put in a bid for Valencia, having shown interest from when the deal for Rodrigo went through. This week, Anil Murthy dismissed those rumors.

There were also news circulating of an interest from Atletico Madrid for Kondogbia. The player's clause is said to have dropped from 80 million euros to 30 million euros when the transfer window closed. Atletico were one of the teams approaching the player and were said to be in discussion with him even after the break. Just yesterday, Kondogbia took to twitter to show his dissatisfaction with Anil Murthy blaming him for ruining a winning project, betraying Javi Gracia and fooling him. It looks like there will be some repercussions for his statements.

PREVIEW

Villareal played out a 0-0 home draw against Atletico Madrid in their last game. There were two shots on target in the game and all of them came from Villareal, despite Atletico having more than double their total shots.

Valencia had a rough time in their game against Real Betis. Despite playing at home, they suffered a 0-2 loss to Real Betis. The away team dominated the game completely and Valencia hardly showed any response or effort to match them. 

Villareal currently sit 8th with 8 points while Valencia are 11th with 7 points.

FORM

Villareal: DWLWD

Valencia: LWDLW

SQUAD

Valencia recovered several players from injury over the break. Paulista, Soler and Cheryshev are all available for selection. Mangala is still recovering. Kondogiba has problems with his heel but is also in the midst of conflict with the club.

Two changes that fans have been asking for appear to be implemented with Carlos Soler playing in central midfield and Guedes joining Maxi Gomez in attack.


FIRST HALF

4' - Penalty awarded to Villareal after Paulista tackled Pedraza in the penalty area. Chukwueze had put in a ball into the box and Pedraza's touch took him past Correia and created a dangerous opportunity.
6' - Goal for Villareal. Alcacer converts the penalty, sending Jaume the wrong way.
11' - Yellow card shown to Vicente Iborra for a tactical foul on Musah who was beginning to get away from his markers. Free kick in a good position for Valencia. Wass steps up to take it.
18' - This first half is looking like a practice session for Villareal so far with the Valencia players are placeholder defenders. Something needs to change or a second goal is coming.
28'- Guedes hits the ball straight at the keeper from a free kick.
33' - Diakhaby gets a header after a delivery from Soler's free kick.
36' - Goal for Valencia! 1-1! Guedes scores in his usual style. Soler took the corner short and found Guedes who took the ball made a horizontal run along the edge of the penalty area. Once he reaches the center he takes a shot into the top left corner of the goal. This is a glimpse of the version of Guedes that Valencia signed.

HALF-TIME

Despite the scoreline, Villareal dominated the game. They had the majority of possession and chances and had Valencia trapped in their own box. 

The home team took advantage within the first 5 minutes of the game with Paulista giving away a penalty which was converted by Alcacer. While Villareal looked threatening after that, they couldn't capitalize on their dominance.

Valencia started to get more into the game as Maxi Gomez and Guedes gave them breathing room when they would go forward and get fouled. Valencia's efforts on target came from Guedes's free kick which was hit directly at the keeper, and Diakhaby's header following a free kick which also easy for the keeper. Out of nowhere, Guedes shows that spark that he shows every now and then and strikes the ball beautifully from distance, leaving Asenjo with no chance at saving it. 

Half-time stats. 10-6 shots, 4-3 shots on target, 64-36 % possession, 90-83 % pass accuracy.

SECOND HALF

48' - Soler with a great run in midfield breaking through the opposition players and setting up a 3 v 3 on with the Villareal backline. He opts to pick up Alex Blanco on his right but the youngster's shot is blocked by the defender.
51' - Yellow card shown to Pedraza for dragging down Alex Blanco.
52' - First substitution for Valencia. Cheryshev replaces Alex Blanco. Musah returns to his spot on the right flank and Cheryshev takes over the left.
63' - Double change for Villareal. Trigueros and Chukwueze are replaced by Coquelin and Kubo
66'- Pedraza appeals for a penalty after clashing with Correia for the ball on the goal-line. The referee and VAR dismiss it.
68' - Goal for Villareal. 2-1. Parejo bypasses Wass's challenge and strikes the ball from the edge of the box. The ball hits Diakhaby's foot, goes over Jaume and into the goal off the the crossbar.
72' - Yellow card shown to Take Kubo for a high boot which strikes Gaya in the side of the head.
80' - Third substitution for Villareal. Alcacer off, Carlos Bacca on.
83' - Triple change for Valencia. Jason, Gameiro and Racic come on for Musah, Wass and Correia
84' - Yellow card shown to Paulista for a heavy challenge on Parejo
89' - Final change for Valencia. Manu Vallejo replaces Guedes
90' - Five minutes added by the referee for stoppages
90+2' - Second yellow card shown to Take Kubo for a heavy challenge on Soler. He is sent off with a red card.
90+5'- Final change for Villareal. Parejo is taken off due to injury and Jaume Costa comes on to replace him.

FULL-TIME

After a first half where Valencia managed only one good change to score  and against the run of play at that, it was doubtful whether Valencia would be able to do it again if they were to go down again. 

Valencia started off the second half strongly with a great attacking move lead by Carlos Soler. That was the peak of the half for the away team with no clear chances after that. 

Villareal would get a stroke of luck with a deflection off Diakhaby to go ahead in the game and give Parejo a goal versus his former side. Two former players of Valencia were responsible for their demise today.

Villareal would go down to 10 men in the final minutes of the game but it wasn't enough time for Valencia to capitalize on it, especially the way they were playing today.

Not many would have expected Valencia to walk away with a win, given last game's performance as well as the recent controversy at the club. In a way, the difference was clear between a team that is competing for European competitions and a team that is aiming for a mid-table spot.

Full-time stats. 16-11 shots, 6-3 shots on target, 63-37 % possession, 89-83 % pass accuracy.

Next game is away to Elche on Friday the 23th.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Javi Gracia Statement

First of all I want to thank the great support that I have received in recent days, especially from players and club employees. I also want to express my gratitude for the constant expressions of affection that all the fans are sending me, both on the streets and on social networks.

To avoid any type of rumor mill I want to make it clear from the outset that I have placed my position at the disposal of the Owner and the President. I have done it out of professional honesty towards what I understand Valencianism represents and the challenges that I think this club should mark each season for its great history.

When I signed for Valencia CF I was aware from the first moment that the squad was going to undergo a reconstruction, although it is true that I could not imagine that the creation of the squad would end with numerous exits and no entries, except for the return of those on loan.

I am the first to fully understand that the club has to be stable and economically viable, and that should be based on a series of exits. But there was also a compromise on some entries that did not occur. The fact that a team that finished ninth in the league last season and begins the following season with so many important casualties, and no incorporations, is an objective data to understand that the squad has weakened. And that, therefore, the ambitious challenges that were posed to me when I signed for the club are necessarily affected.

I want to make it absolutely clear that this is not a complaint towards my squad, of which I am very proud and extraordinarily grateful for the support they have shown me in recent days. It is a disparity of views about how Valencia CF should have acted in such an important transfer market to start an exciting new stage in which the squad could have been provided with more resources.

This and this alone is the only reason that has led me to make my position available to the club. Once I have fulfilled that duty, I will do what I really want, which is to continue training this wonderful team. I will continue to be very happy in this city, and I will continue to be very responsible for my fans, motivated and excited. I will do my best to get the most out of this squad and give the fans maximum joy.