Monday, January 16, 2017

Valencia sign Zaza

In case you haven't heard, Valencia have confirmed the on-loan signing of Simone Zaza, who joins us after an unsuccessful spell at West Ham in which he failed to score in 11 games.

The loan is costing Valencia €2m, while in summer the club will have to pay another €16m plus a possible €2m in bonuses if he plays more than 10 games and Valencia don't get relegated.

This transfer was mooted under Prandelli, but, with the Italian resigning, there seemed to be doubts about it going ahead. Zaza did well in his early years on loan at lower division clubs Viareggio and Ascoli scoring 29 goals in 54 games, but in the 3 and a half seasons since then the stats have gone south, with the player averaging less than a goal every three games before his move to England, less than Rodrigo has averaged this season, as it happens. A combined total of €20m seems a lot for a player who is not a guaranteed goal scorer.

On the plus side, he does bring attributes that the team have lacked up front this season: strong in the air and a physical player, capable of holding the ball up, qualities similar to the departed Negredo. Also, at least in contrast to the latter, Valencia have a try-before-you-buy deal. If he does well, the team can splash the cash. If he doesn't produce the goods, we've at least secured cover for Rodrigo and then can cut our losses by simply benching Zaza in mid-March, close to when Rodrigo is due to return from his injury.

What do you think?

In other news, Vinicius looks set to go on loan at a Segunda side, while the postponed Valencia - Real Madrid game has been confirmed for Wednesday 22 February at 21:00 Central European Time.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Valencia 2-1 Espanyol

Valencia's first league win since mid-October. The result is misleading, suggesting a close-fought game when, in reality, Valencia were dominant and produced what may be their best performance of the season so far. For most of the game the team played more like a team with great link-up play and understanding between the various players.

Valencia began as they would go on, threatening and pressing and not giving Espanyol time to settle. A good chance came early on, Nani fed Gaya whose cross was tipped away by the keeper, with Soler very unlucky to have his shot cleared off the line. Soon after Valencia were ahead after a great team move, with 6 or 7 passes finding Nani, who put the ball across for Montoya to score.

Valencia were comfortable for most of the half after that. It took until the 35th minute for Espanyol to get a chance which Alves saved well. The only negative was that, by half-time, our dominance had only produced a 1-goal lead.

The second half again saw VCF controlling proceedings, the defence and midfield in particular looked solid, up front was the only let-down. Things looked a bit confused at times, with Mina, who was supposedly playing right forward often ending up in the left channel, while Munir had few touches.

After generally having a good game, the ref then started to lose the plot, booking several Valencia players in succession, while hard challenges by Espanyol went unpunished. Valencia's intensity dropped a bit and the need to avoid second bookings by many of our players led to Espanyol coming back into it more. However, in the 72nd minute, any doubts looked over. A great free kick by Parejo was whipped in, with the keeper producing a great save, but before there was time for controversy over whether the ball had crossed the line, Mina nodded home.

It should have been done and dusted after that but, unfortunately, this is Valencia, who can never keep clean sheets against anyone. A through ball almost put Espanyol clear, but Santos produced great defending to cover. From the corner, Valencia looked set to clear but really amateurish decision making from Nani led to Espanyol recovering possession and scoring. Luckily, VCF were able to hold on without too much trouble, but again, it would be good to see dominant performances like this rewarded with more convincing wins. Nonetheless, VCF now move 4 points ahead of the relegation zone and more performances like this would see the team breathe more easily.

Alves 7 - Didn't have much to do, but did it well when he had to.
Gaya 6.5 - This was like the Gaya of old, for better and worse, Great attacking play but caught too far forward a couple of times. Needs to keep his cool too, even when the ref is clearly in the wrong.
Santos 7 - very solid defending and covering, hopefully the injury at the end was just cramp
Garay 6.5 - didn't notice him that much, but I guess that's partly down to him marking the Espanyol forward out of the game
Montoya 7.5 - can we promote him to number 9? Has now scored as many in the last 2 games as Barragan did in 150 games. Decent defending too.
Enzo 7 - wow: completes the full 90 and....! Doesn't get booked. Great job screening the defence.
Parejo 7.5 - so often a target for the Mestalla boo-boys, but rarely put a foot wrong this game and was involved in both goals
Soler 7 - really confident performance from the youngster, hopefully he can replace the often-ineffective Mario.
Nani 6 - a really good first half performance undermined by the awful decision-making that gave away the goal
Munir 4 - worst of our players, didn't do enough running and no surprise when he was the first to be subbed off
Mina 7 - return to form for the youngster. Ran tirelessly and scored his first since the opening day.

Cancelo 6 - did a decent job after coming on
Bakkali & Mario - late subs to waste time, so no rating.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Celta Vigo 2 - 1 Valencia CF Match Report

Celta Vigo were all but guaranteed to go through to the next round from the first leg's 4-1 result at the Mestalla. We needed to score 4 goals to go through without conceding any but we're not in any shape to get that kind of result. Didn't expect much from this match and rightfully so, it wasn't all too interesting or surprising.

The only unusual event was the inclusion of Vinicius Araujo in the squad for the game. His loan spell at Sport Recif in the Brazilian league ended recently and Voro decided to give him a chance. Well why not when nothing else has worked. Him and Rafa Mir are the closest we have to a typical 9, which we desperately need. His decision paid off with Araujo scoring in this game a few minutes after Celta Vigo were allowed to take a shot from far out which found its way to the back of the net. Araujo's finish was good and our current forwards have missed several chances of similar nature in the past. Not saying he's the solution, but he did okay. We still need a 9 with Zaza seeming more likely too join soon. Again, new players alone won't solve our problems, since these problems run deeper than that. And these players are unproven so we can't rely on them to change the result. 

This game had huge periods with it seeming like a practice game. Celta knew they had this in the bag and didn't commit to much in terms of lineup or energy. Valencia CF knew it would be near impossible to grab a win by 4 goals so didn't commit too much either. The rest was typical. Poor defending lead to a Celta goal from outside the box. We tied up the game quite quickly after but then Celta scored again in, you guessed it, the last minute of the game. This is becoming a really frustrating habit among many. We've lost a lot of points in the last few minutes of the game. We couldn't have qualified regardless but its outrageous how we keep committing the same mistakes over and over. 

Anyways, good news is Santos and Mangala are available again so we don't have to play with makeshift defenses from B team or out of position players like Mario Suarez. The other thing is, news sources are reporting up to 4 signings to come to Valencia this window. One of them is likely Zaza. Maksimovic who was signed for the summer could also come earlier if Valencia pay some money (otherwise it's for free this summer). Other players that were rumored could be Evra, Halilovic, and Roque Mesa. There was something about Jese too but I don't think that's likely.

Now we can focus solely on the league and the only mission for this year : avoid relegation. Former players are trying to urge the team forward starting Sunday against Espanyol. Let's see if we can turn it around.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Osasuna 3-3 Valencia

Osasuna means health in Basque. What we saw tonight from both teams was anything but good health, we saw two very sick teams who both looked doomed to play football at a lower level unless something radical and unexpected changes.

Let's look at the context. Osasuna had lost the previous seven games before this, conceding 17 goals against relegation candidates such as Depor, Leganes and Sporting. They'd scored a single goal in those games.

That stat tells you all you need to know about how awful Valencia are. In 630 minutes or ten and a half hours of footy, Osasuna had scored once. It took them just six minutes of this game to find their way through the defence and they'd added two more by the end. If that isn't a clear sign that Valencia fans need to prepare for trips to Reus, Oviedo, Soria and Alcorcon next season, I don't know what is.

The game started pretty well for VCF too. Mina shot just over in the opening minute. A link up between Mina and Siquiera resulted in the latter putting in a great cross for Munir to slam home. You almost knew it wouldn't last. A few minutes later Mario Suarez provided a brilliant assist (if you're an Osasuna fan) for Osasuna to equalise. We know he's not a defender, but come on? Playing out of position does not absolve you from marking opponents.

The rest of the half was mostly even with Munir missing a good chance for us. Just before half time, we had an undeserved lead, with a Parejo corner headed in for an own goal which is already a contender for Valencia's goal of the season (there aren't that many contenders for the honour.)

An uneven and scrappy second half followed with both teams proving inept in front of and around the area and misplacing passes. Osasuna scored in the 62nd, Montoya somehow managed to get himself in the left channel and put us back in front 10 minutes later. At this point, I fully expected the clock to wind down and for us to concede a late equaliser, it's what always happens. The only surprise came in the form of a penalty which gave us the chance to clinch a valuable three points, only for Parejo to hit an awful shot at the keeper. The inevitable equaliser followed. Why aren't these even a surprise now?

I said before this game that only a win without conceding would start to life the spirits. Failing to win and conceding three goals is awful. I fully expect us to go down now. If we can't beat the worst team, there isn't a team we can beat. Valencia has conceded at least one goal in the last 30 games and the last 26 away league games. In 41 league games since Nuno resigned Valencia has kept one clean sheet. It's hard to see any credible argument against relegation now.

Alves 3 - needed to do much better on the goals.
Montoya 4 - good goal and marginally better than Cancelo in this position but needs to do much better than this.
Suarez 1 - wasn't the Copa disgrace enough of a sign that he is not a defender. Still no excuse for such dire football.
Mangala 4 - the best of a very bad bunch but lacked any understanding with colleagues and another stupid yellow means he's out next week just when we desparately need defenders.
Siquiera 3.5 - another guy who will not be missed when he leaves this year
Enzo 2.5 - failed to screen the defence and many mistimed challenges and moments of petulance. Lucky not to be sent off.
Parejo 3 - was he drunk again when he took that penalty? Do Sevilla still want to pay 20m for him?
Soler 3 - had his chance in a starting role and failed to inspire
Mina 3.5 - did well to win the penalty and had a couple of good link ups, but overall, way too selfish
Rodrigo 2.5 - like the guy who finishes 1567th in the London marathon. Ran and ran, won nothing.
Munir 4.5 - best of the forward line and well taken goal, but seems to lack the combinations with others

Lato 4.5 - good to see him finally getting his chance and made a couple of good interceptions
Nani 2.5 - anonymous, might as well have just stayed on the bench recovering from his injury
Sito N/A - again, nice to see a B-team player get a debut, but didn't understand this sub at all, why not bring on Santos to shore up the defence and kill the game?

Voro 3 - not the saviour we hoped for. Very questionable decisions playing Suarez in defence and bringing on an offensive player when we should have been looking to kill the game off.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Osasuna vs Valencia CF Match Preveiw

Valencia's new coach Voro will feature for the second time this season leading the team to try and avoid relegation. So far he has 2 wins actually and one loss, so a decent record, but taking over a team long term and becoming a full time manager is different and we'll see how he does, though its important to note that he still hasn't gotten the full job, I think Peter Lim and the management are looking to the outcome of the match against Osasuna.

Good news for Voro is that Mangala and Santos are back in the squad, though unfortunately Garay and Gaya are still injured. Nani is also back to the squad and might even feature tomorrow. Voro has also called up 4 Valencia B players, including Lato, though Vero has usually been pragmatic and I think we are likely going to see Siqueira playing on the left back position.

Soler is also back in the team and I think he deserves to start from the start, he's shown that he is better than the rest, not that that is any accomplishment, but I'd start him over Enzo or Suarez. Though knowing how bad our midfield is, maybe playing with 5 midfielders could be an option to prevent being run over.

So far nothing in terms of reinforcements, supposedly Zaza is supposed to arrive after doing a 180% degree on him and the club supposedly deciding to ultimately get him. We are also hearing about the possibility of Evra arriving, but again so far nothing concrete. 

I think its really hard to predict the match tomorrow, everything is going so bad for Valencia CF so far and doesn't seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel, it feels as we could drown and drown forever. I'd like to predict a victory, but my gut tells me another devastating loss. 

Jesús García Pitarch resigns

Valencia CF sporting director Jesús García Pitarch has resigned from his position as sporting director effective immediately and its an irrevocable resignation.

Current VCF Academy Director, José Ramón Alesanco, will take on the position in an interim capacity and continue in the work the Suso has been doing, trying to sign some of the players Valencia CF have been going after. So he will be trying to finish the deals for Zaza, Evra and few others that Suso has been trying to do till now.

Its obvious things are unraveling at Valencia CF and its obvious we don't have the proper people in the club, but Pitarch hasn't done really well in the time he's been a sporting director, so its not really a big loss at all.

It will be interesting if we do get a new sporting director or not and who it might be if we do.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Zaza to ultimately join Valencia CF

Simone Zaza is supposedly going to be the first "reinforcement" for Valencia CF this transfer window, which is a bit strange as Valencia CF stopped all dealings with Zaza as they looked to bring in another player, but I guess they've changed their minds and would ultimately be bringing Zaza to Valencia CF.

Suso is supposedly negotiating with Juventus to bring Zaza in tandem with Patrice Evra and with these two add some much needed experience to the squad, though if you ask me Evra will be strengthening the wrong position, while Zaza is a huge question mark if he is actually going to contribute anything as he's been garbage at his current club West Ham, in fact so bad that everyone wants him gone yesterday.

Is Simone Zaza the man to turnover Valencia's fortunes as Prandelli claimed on his press conferences and the key cog in this chain to make a turnover for Valencia CF? Personally I don't see it, I don't see how this out of form, out of confidence player is going to help us at all, but stranger things have happened.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Valencia CF after Patrice Evra

Valencia CF are supposedly interested in Juventus FC left back Patrice Evra. Patrice Evra has been instrumental for Manchester United and has helped them win many titles, with the player transferring to Juventus towards the later stages of his career, though for a defender its not unusual to play even until 36 years of age, usually not on the wings as speed does leave with age, but many full backs have went on to play as central defenders.

Either way he is now 35 years of age and his contract expires this summer with Juventus not interested in renewing his contract and with him being second choice this season Valencia CF sees an opening in order to get him. Juventus is also a weaker club in terms of revenue from tickets sold, they have a small crowd due to the smaller city they are based on, and overall in Italy the salaries are not much bigger even for the top teams, certainly bigger than Spain overall, but not by much.

Issue here is what are we going to do with Siquiera who wants to stay his full loan deal here and has rejected offers for him, and we have Jose Luis Gaya who's been disappointing, but so has everyone. Not to mention what would this do to the possibility for Lato getting a chance? We all know what happened to Isco and him not getting chances here and leaving. We don't want a repeat of that and to lose a super talented player like that obviously, so why Evra?

I mean he is a proven winner and we need his character, his experience and from that perspective I think its a good deal, but we don't need a player on that position, at least not right now, not unless Siqueira leave this winter.

I think they have the right idea of going for more experienced and proven players who have the character and winning mentality, but they need to go after the right positions and maybe a little bit younger players, Evra is 35 years old, he is not getting any younger, question is how much he can contribute on the pitch at his age as a left back. Again he is a proven player, but he is getting into years now so that can be an issue if we can't fully use him on the pitch.