Saturday, May 18, 2019

Champions League !!!!! Amunt!!!

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE, WOHOO! This ended up being a fantastic season, yes there were difficulties in the first half of the season, it was a slow start, but the team built up slowly and we managed to reach the semi final in the Europa league, we managed to qualify for the Champions league and next week we play in the final of the copa del rey.

Congratulations to Valencia CF and to all of its fans for a fantastic and successful season!

This is it then. The last and most important game in the league of Valencia's topsy turvy season could see the team fulfil their decent comeback this year by sealing Champions league football. Results last weekend, apart from Sevilla drawing instead of losing, couldn't have been better as they saw our rivals for today, Valladolid secure their place in La Liga for next season.

Valladolid and their coach in particular have animosity towards Bordalas going back to a play-off final. That could also help us. So, with everything in our favour, it's up to us to seal the deal, without complacency. We know from games like the one versus Rayo that our team is totally capable of screwing up when it's needed most.

Big news in the squad

is that Kondogbia returns, though I wouldn't expect anything more from him other than a late sub appearance at best. Garay also has injury doubts and probably won't feature. Soler is suspended and Marcelino has said that Jaume will get the remaining games.

Given all that, I would expect to see: Jaume ; Gaya, Diakhaby, Paulista, Piccini ; Guedes, Parejo, Coquelin, Wass ; Rodrigo, Gameiro. (Mina instead of Gameiro is possible.)

My bad, Soler isn't suspended, so he is at right midfield with Wass at right back and Mina starting with Gameiro on the bench.


A nervous first half, or is that just me? Valencia struggled to threaten and at times Valladolid looked like the team with more to play for. It got worse in the 14th minute when news came through that Getafe had scored and were therefore in fourth temporarily. Valladolid had a couple of good chances, one from a free kick where Jaume fumbled it with his feet and another when Wass got owned and Jaume had to save at his near post. Valencia fluffed some chances too. Wass put a great ball across the box but neither Mina nor Rodrigo were well-positioned. Mina slipped when receiving a great pass, when he would have had an easy pass to Rodrigo and was also denied by a good save from Joel. But the breakthrough came in the 35th minute. Rodrigo robbed, found Mina and good footwork from him found Soler who calmly slotted home. Getafe had scored a second in the 24th minute but VAR had ruled it out. Just before halftime Villarreal equalised against Getafe, so we have that insurance now, but the best insurance will be Valencia asserting themselves more and adding more goals. We cannot rely on other teams to slip up.

Valencia got the insurance goal in the 52nd minute. The TV basically missed it as they were focused on a replay as Joel took a goal kick, only cutting back to the live feed just in time to see Rodrigo score. What happened was that Joel's goal kick found the defender, but his touch was too heavy, Parejo stole in, robbed the ball, and one-on-one unselfishly rolled the ball to Rodrigo who had a tap-in. After that, Valladolid put in noticeably less effort. There were a couple of nervous moments: Jaume produced a couple of great saves to maintain his clean sheet and there was a VAR check with 12 minutes left for a possible penalty in Valladolid's favour. The commentator announced that the ref had given it but luckily he was wrong. Getafe conceded an equaliser and Valencia, after lagging behind by 12 points at one stage, take fourth with a 2-point gap.

Good game for Jaume, while Diakhaby was a titan in the air, heading out goodness knows how many crosses. Kondogbia came on and played the last half hour and looked very good.

Plenty of things we can nitpick over about the season as a whole, the poor start almost cost us, but ultimately it's been a good centenary year: Europa semis, back-to-back Champs league qualifications for the first time since 2012. That we did it by overhauling Sevilla and Getafe, 2 hated rivals, just makes it all the sweeter and still a chance of silverware next week in the Copa. AMUNT!!!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Valencia 3-1 Alaves match thread

Final home game of the season, must win as always, Valencia's 59th game of a hectic season, when did we last play so many? Few surprises in the line-up

Jaume is probably a mild surprise. Neto and the defence, after being good all season have been a bit shaky recently, but I suspect this is just to give Jaume a game to get him ready for the Copa final. Up front, Mina starts instead of Gameiro.

Alaves, who were fourth at the end of March, have hit an awful run of form with 3 draws and 5 defeats in the last 8, but as we saw with our game against Rayo, that doesn't allow us to be complacent.

Of importance to us is the game at the Nou Camp where Barcelona have gone with Cillessen; Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Vidal; Malcom, Messi, Coutinho. Apart from resting Ter Stegen, looks like the strongest line-up possible.

A couple of news items. It looks like Valencia will receive a transfer ban for signing underage players. The club can appeal, delaying any sanctions and then work around them.

Secondly, the club will resign Maksimovich this week, exercising the 7.5 million buy back clause. As he appears not to be part of Marcelino's plans and we are well stocked in midfield, the club's plans are to cash in on his good season, with rumoured interest from Germany may be bringing in 15 million.

With pressure to succeed could Valencia blow it? Yes. Though the team had looked lively in the opening period, with a Rodrigo-Guedes interplay leading to the latter cutting inside and sending a shot just wide of the post. Valencia's love of shooting themselves in the foot was in evidence again. A fluffed corner led to Alaves having a 4 on 2 counter attack which was eventually blocked by Jaume, I can't say saved, since it hit him in the face. Corners worry me as much as counters so I wasn't hugely surprised when they scored, beating Jaume at his near post. Soler lost his man and Mina wasn't able to get up to block.

Both made amends. First, a long ball from Paulista saw their defender screw up, trying to head back to the keeper but instead letting Soler equalise. Then, from a corner, Mina headed in to put us ahead. Rodrigo has had a couple of chances to add to the lead but poor decision making both times saw him either tackled or shooting over. Alaves have had a few counter attacks so they are very much in this. Concentration and a third goal is needed. Other results going our way: Getafe and Sevilla losing and Valladolid, who we play next week winning and hopefully will be safe.

A very nervy start, with Valencia weathering heavy Alaves pressure but the team produced a more solid performance in this half and in the 67th minute, Gaya put in an excellent cross and Gameiro smartly headed into the turf, with the bounce proving too much for the keeper. Gaya was involved in Valencia's best chance later, making a strong run and finding Gameiro who had the chance of shooting or passing to the overlapping Soler. He chose the second option, which probably was the best, but Soler shot wide with the whole goal to aim at. The game closed out 3-1 and with Getafe losing and Sevilla drawing, that means that Valencia creep into fourth for the first time this season. Valladolid also won and put themselves safe, meaning they have nothing to play for next week (though Getafe's opponents Villarreal did the same.) Finally, after a weird season, we have our destiny in our hands for the first time since matchday 1. 

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Valencia - Arsenal (match thread)

I'm late with this and, despite the late hour, will try my best to update this post with first and second half reviews. Your comments will be appreciated.

Standard line-up from both teams with Valencia going with....

Let's hope the team can build on the 6-goal win of last weekend.

Quick update.... Valencia started well and got a good goal but then Arsenal got a goal from nowhere. I would like to blame the defence but don't even think they or Neto did a lot wrong. When you can afford to spend nearly 70 million on a forward, as English teams can do, that gives you the edge against comparable teams from other leagues. Arsenal just scored the killer second and that's it for me I'm afraid. I don't think this scoreline is representative but when La Liga is based on a corrupt model of giving all the TV money to two teams, what can we do?

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Huesca 2-6 Valencia match thread

This is it then. Very often this season, we've described games as "must-win" but this truly is one, as the finish line of the season is in sight. Valencia had a bit of temporary cheer when Sevilla got mauled at home by Leganes (their manager being Mauricio Pellegrino.) His efforts at doing his old club a favour will all be for nothing if Valencia don't win tonight. Getafe's win over Girona was a double whammy for us. Not only does it put Getafe 6 points clear, a Girona win would have relegated Huesca. As it is, Huesca are still mathematically alive and fighting for an outside chance of survival. As we've seen in recent weeks, the bottom teams are fighting tooth and nail: Rayo beat us and R.Madrid (but still went down) and Valladolid have just beaten Bilbao and therefore none of them can be taken lightly. 

Another point to note is that Huesca's league position doesn't tell the full story. Anyone who has watched them will know they are better than it suggests. Indeed, they are unbeaten in 6 games, though they've only won one of those. Valencia barely scraped a win at Mestalla over them, Piccini's 94th minute strike sealing the three points with Marcelino's job on the line.

His destiny as Valencia coach may still depend on doing the business against Huesca. A number of fans are fed up with the team's conservative style this season and top four for the second season running would go a huge way to placating doubters. To be honest, I think he'll continue anyway, as top 6, copa final and at least Europa league semis will be good enough for the club's hierarchy, but fan unrest spilling over into next season would not be good. Valencia have lost 3 in a row for the first time this season and really need to shake themselves out of this mini-rut and keep the pressure on Getafe. Sadly, their next game at Barcelona may not be as tough as we'd hoped as Barcelona are now resting players with the league in the bag.

A few changes for the game with, thankfully, none of the weirdness we saw last game. Soler and Garay are rested, Guedes returns to the wing and a forward two of Mina and Rodrigo starts.

A win will guarantee Valencia European football next season in at least Europa league, while making it impossible to break the 18 draws in a season record (they could only, erm, draw with that record.)

Where did that come from? Valencia escape their recent malaise in style, blasting a poor Huesca away to lead 5-0 at the break. I think that's the most decisive Valencia first-half performance since the win over Vienna at Mestalla in early 2016. I was struggling to get a stable stream at the start so missed the early goal from Wass. From the replay, it was a pass through from Gabriel with Wass twisting and shooting past the keeper. The second came from a terrific pass from the right (Coquelin?) to find Mina whose through ball put Rodrigo one on one with the keeper and he rounded him and scored from a tight angle. The third came from an interchange between Mina, Rodrigo and Guedes with the latter finding Mina in space in the area. He took his time before placing it home well. Mina, of course, only scores in twos and he got the fourth, Piccini combining with Wass, whose ball across the box was turned in by Mina. The fifth almost certainly goes down as an own goal. Awful defending with a blind back pass straight to Rodrigo. I'm nitpicking, but he should have done better and while he was dithering, the defender slid in and put it in his own net.

Main question now is who to take off to rest with the Arsenal second leg upcoming. Parejo, Rodrigo and Guedes would be an obvious three, with Lato for Gaya (or Guedes) an option.

With the Arsenal game ahead, Valencia understandably took their foot off the pedal in the second period, focusing on avoiding injuries and bookings. Parejo and Guedes went off to rest at half time for Soler and Ferran and it was the latter that contributed to the next goal, a superb chip over the defence for Mina who passed across to Rodrigo for 6-0. Rodrigo went off soon after with a minor knock just as a precaution.

The only negatives came in the Huesca goals. Poor defending to let them get to the by-line then Neto spilled the save and Piccini had lost his man. The final goal in injury time from a penalty came after Diakhaby blocked a shot with his arm. That's the  fourth time he's given away a penalty due to handball this season and this is becoming a problem.

Overall, a solid and morale boosting win. Now we have to hope that another former Valencia manager, Valverde, puts out a strong team and beats Getafe next week as otherwise we're reliant on Villarreal, who are safe.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Arsenal - Valencia match thread

Valencia's last game ended in a hugely disappointing defeat to Eibar, a team that had nothing to play for. That Getafe and Sevilla also lost makes it bittersweet: good that it means Valencia have an outside chance of 4th place but bad in that the team blew a chance to jump into 4th. Now, with only 3 rounds left, the team has to win all 3 remaining games, 2 of which are away against teams fighting relegation (we lost to Rayo in similar circumstances) and then hope that Sevilla and Getafe each lose a game. Time is running out and therefore the Europa league now represents our best chance of getting Champions league football.

The match squad contains few surprises, but does have the team light in midfield, with Cheryshev and Kondogbia injured and Coquelin banned.

Some of you have said in the comments that we should have both Gaya and Lato on the left, with one of them in midfield. I would go for that too, but doubt it will happen. I would expect Marcelino to go with


Arsenal are in a poor run of form, so hopefully Valencia can keep a clean sheet and maybe nick a crucial away goal.

I don't know what to make of that, either the line-up or the performance. Marcelino put in SIX defenders and it wasn't clear what the formation would be. Turns out to be 5-3-2 with Diakhaby playing a defensive midfield role.

Valencia started brightly and from a free kick move the ball was put across the box. Garay then produced one of the misses of the season, shooting over an empty goal when scoring would have been easier. A few minutes later Valencia had the lead and a crucial away goal. Again from a set piece, Cech and the Arsenal defence were all over the place, with Rodrigo heading back across the goal and Diakhaby heading home. Arsenal looked disorganised and another chance arrived. Not sure what the Arsenal defender was doing when he headed it back to the keeper but Guedes stole in but shot over.

The tide turned after the 15th minute, now it was Valencia's turn to be disorganised and shaky in defence. Arsenal played us at our own game, a fast counter with a goal after defensive errors. Neto came out and got caught in no man's land. 7 minutes later Valencia were behind, another poor goal to concede, a cross into the box with Roncaglia allowing Lacazette to head home and again, Neto probably could have done better.

Some positive signs, but Guedes has struggled to make an impact and so many defenders at times seems to have made the defence worse, not better.

Well, that's really poor. What is the point in having so many defenders on if we concede soft goals? Tie over for me, I just can't see us winning 2-0.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Atletico Madrid 3 - 2 Valencia CF Match Thread

Well, for a game between the two best defensive sides in the league I don't think anyone expected there to be 5 goals. We have struggled to beat Atletico Madrid on many occasions over the past few years and this was just another one of those occasions.

Atletico scored first early in the first half with a cross from Juanfran on the right (our left) picking out Morata at the far post. Garay let his guard down and let Morata get to the ball for a poke past Neto.

Valencia would respond soon after with Soler picking out Santi Mina in the Atletico box. The latter would dribble past 2 Atletico defenders and pick out Gameiro at the opposite post who had no trouble beating Oblak from that range.

Atletico would regain the lead early in the second half with another cross. This time Griezmann would get to the ball ahead of Gaya and head the ball past Neto.

Atletico would get several other chances to get further ahead with a goal from Morata ruled offside correctly, as well as a header and a shot from Griezmann both of which skimmed past the post.

Valencia would get a gift in the form of a handball confirmed by VAR and Parejo would step up to take it and score.

Taking one point from the game would've been a good result especially at the Wanda Metropolitano, however, Correa would yet again hand us a defeat with a long range effort from the edge of the box. He was yet again given the time and space, and Neto remained frozen for the third time in the match.

We had some luck by getting a quite sloppier than usual Atletico side but unfortunately defensive errors would cost us the game this time. It was weird to see Guedes subbed off early despite being taken off early the game prior in preparation for this game. The replacement was Sobrino who had been injured up until this point. Other than his involvement in the counterattacking play right after he was subbed on, he didn't really make an impact. Of course, we can't expect that he would add anything so soon after a long injury and I don't see how he was an improvement over Guedes. Our bench was pretty weak today due to injuries with the only other viable substitution being Ferran Torres but Marcelino opted just for the one change.

Parejo had a great game but a lot of the other players were giving the ball away too easily and wasting possession. It would have been nice to have Rodrigo and Kondogbia in a game like this but it is what it is.

The good news is we got Sobrino back, our Europa League opponents are having a poor run of form, and Getafe play a tough game against Real Madrid next meaning the gap will probably be maintained barring an upset. However, Sevilla can now overtake both of us if they win.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Real Betis - Valencia match thread

So a crunch week arrives with two tough away games, Atletico Madrid away on Wednesday and tonight, at Betis. Valencia hasn't won against either of the two big Madrid teams away since February 2011 when a brace from Jaoquin took the points. He's starting for the other team tonight and Valencia's recent lack of success in Madrid means it's important he doesn't go away happy. Getafe beat Sevilla earlier. As Getafe have a tougher final set of fixtures this was probably the best result possible and also, from a longer term point of view, if Valencia screw up and don't get 4th, Sevilla are a more dangerous rival than the annoying team of Bordalas. Neither can happen though and it's essential that we get the 3 points and then hope to get something from Atletico Madrid. Drop points tonight and it's hard to see us catching up.

Line up is mostly as expected, with the possible exception of Mina up front instead of Gameiro. I guess Rodrigo is still not 100% fit. Mina-Guedes worked well enough last time and both scored in the corresponding fixture last season so here's hoping for a repeat.

A mostly frustrating first half. Valencia stood off and allowed Betis lots of possession: it was 74% in their favour at one moment. But a common complaint against Setien this season is that his team have lots of possession without doing anything with it and so it proved. There was a half shot that shaved the outside of the post and a few headers off target but nothing major. Bad news for Valencia as Cheryshev went down injured looking like he twisted something. However, he was able to walk off, so hopefully it isn't too bad. Rodrigo came on, with Guedes returning to his familiar left wing position.

Valencia had created close on zero. I think it was the 41st minute when Valencia even had a shot and that was a tame effort from Mina off target when he was well covered by the defender. The first Valencia shot on target came in injury time and what a shot. Parejo found Rodrigo who drove forward and found Guedes, who cut inside and, with Rodrigo complaining about not receiving a pass, hit a wonderful shot through the legs of the defender to beat the keeper at his near post. Nicely set up for Valencia to hit Betis on the counter in the second half.

Valencia got the second half off to a good start, from a short corner, the ball came to Guedes, who again ploughed a low drive through a group of defenders to give us a 2-goal lead. Valencia were looking better and more adventurous and looked comfortable. Last year, Valencia had been cruising: 4 up in the Villamarin before imploding in the 78th minute and conceding 3 goals in a short space of time. By coincidence, this happened again. First, Gabriel gave away a penalty to let them cut our lead. Then Rodrigo picked up the second of two stupid bookings to reduce us to 10 men and leave us with a nervy finish. Lo Celso should have had a second yellow but it didn't happen. Despite Betis peppering us with corners our defence held strong. Another decisive performance from Guedes.

Final fixtures.
Valencia: At.Madrid (a), Eibar (h), Huesca (a), Alaves (h), Valladolid (a)
Getafe: R.Madrid (h), Sociedad (a), Girona (h), Barcelona (a), Villarreal (h)
Sevilla: Rayo (h), Girona (a), Leganes (h), At.Madrid (a), Bilbao (h)