Saturday, October 20, 2018

Valencia 1-1 Leganes Match Report

Another matchday another draw for Valencia CF, as the team can't seem to shake off this string of draws with Valencia's attack once again failing to fire up. Unlike some other matches Valencia CF did create some chances, but unfortunately that final ball is severely lacking still. Whether its a shot, a pass, a cross, touch, etc... the team fails to get that last bit right. Failed shots, failed passes, failed touches, etc... we can't seem to make that final ball.

The team was as close to standard as it could, we missed Kondogbia as he arrived late from his international duties, Guedes is still injured so no chance there, while Murillo was also out of the squad, though that isn't something new either. So pretty much the standard team with just Kondogbia and Guedes missing, though in this match Kondogbia wasn't really missed, Coquelin did a solid job deputising and handling the defensive side of things, though truth be told Kondogbia does have a bit more of an attacking presence.

Soler was rested likely for the match against Young Boys in the champions league, but Marcelino was forced to use him as an early sub for Cheryshev who got injured during the match. It was a boring match, with no clear cut chances for either side, though Valencia CF was slightly the better team and looked more likely to score.

In the second half as Marcelino made changes in order to try and score, so Valencia CF can win the match, that is when Leganes scored. Unfortunately this means subbing Piccini for Michy and this weakened our defense, allowing Leganes to become more threatening and from one attack in our penalty area to get a penalty call. The penalty was converted by Gerard Gumbau and Leganes seemed set to win this match.

Marcelino then went in all in with attack as he was now looking to not lose. Nothing worked though and we were seeing our attack fail as it has been failing all season long. Thankfully late in the match Gaya would make a good run towards goal and would receive a good pass by Parejo setting him up in prime position to score, which he did with a bit of luck.

Overall we are lacking penetration in our attack, we lack creativity, we lack build-up play, we lack the final ball. Good thing is that all of La Liga is very competitive and most of our rivals drew or lost as well. The table is very packed, so even with this umptheenth draw of ours we are still not far away from the upper table. With few wins we could essentially be leading the table with the way things are going in La Liga. Hopefully Sevilla and Barcelona draw or lose too, we've still be in decent position to catch up.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Valencia 1-1 Barcelona post-match

It's late, so since we don't have it, a short post for you to give your thoughts on yesterday's game.

I thought we started brightly and looked especially threatening on the left, with Guedes and Gaya combining well, and I hoped this would be one game where we'd take it to them instead of letting them dictate things. It wasn't to be. The injury to Guedes changed the dynamic of the game. Cheryshev was alright, but we seemed to lose the initiative after GG7 went off. A perfect start, with Parejo, who had been involved well in the build-up, putting in a good corner and Garay scoring at the back post after 90 seconds. Messi scored a great goal to level it up after 20+ minutes. We had our counter-attacks, especially in the second period, but they lacked the finishing touch.

It was frustrating at times to watch Barca with their TikiTaka nonsense. Why do so many people say they love watching how Barcelona play? I watch it and see world class players, yes, but they're passing the ball around for 5 minutes, possession for possession's sake. It's boring and I'd rather watch Betis or other teams.  

As ever, it's a fine line, I want to say that we gave them too much respect, same as last season, and sat back too much, but if we'd gone all out would we have got the point? It's always a gamble. So overall, I was satisfied with how we played. Marcelino had clearly done his homework and had drilled into the players what to expect and the result was that, like so many teams their attacks came up against a solid wall. If only we could play as well at the other end, we wouldn't have to worry about top 4.

There wasn't anyone in our team who played badly. Neto didn't have a lot to do, but was well positioned throughout and couldn't do anything for the goal. Garay man of the match, there was one great moment in particular where Messi was making one of his powerhouse runs and Garay anticipated perfectly and dispossessed him. Gaya and Gabriel continued at a high level. Those are our best 3 at the back. Piccini was relatively worse, but not so weak this game. I thought he had a decent game and handled Alba and co well.

Midfield was back to its best. Parejo pulling the strings with some great passes and layoffs and Kondogbia doing the midfield enforcer role. Soler tracked back well and Guedes looked back to his best. Could've been a different result if he'd stayed on. We are just not getting the lucky breaks this season.

Up front, Rodrigo was surprisingly dropped but I thought Gameiro-Bats did well. Gameiro worked hard and did some good layoffs but got caught in moments of indecisiveness which marred a good overall performance. Bats had a good game and if he plays this way the goals will come.

Satisfied overall, but top 4 is not won with home draws and our road ahead looks daunting. Sevilla, our main rivals for top 4 are top and 7 points ahead of us. It doesn't look good with close on a quarter of the season gone but the next 2 months bring an easier road and if we can build on the great performances in defence we have a chance.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Manchester United 0-0 Valencia post-match thoughts

Post-match thoughts rather than a full match write-up, because the truth is that last night's game was a dull snoozefest, devoid of clear chances for each side, so I'd prefer to talk more generally. What we saw on the whole were 2 teams out-of-form, lacking in confidence and performing way below the level that they should, who fought each other to a stalemate. The first 70 minutes were an even enough game, with few clear cut chances. Manchester United were a bit better in the last 20 minutes as they became increasingly desparate to score, but a draw was a fair result.

That's 6 games out of 8 that we've drawn and I don't think that's an accident. After a shaky start to the season, the defence and Neto have really sharpened up. Only 1 goal conceded from open play in the last 6 games is testament to that. Murillo has his fans but for me, he'd be fourth choice. Garay-Gabriel are the best pairing we have at the moment, with Diakhaby a good option when there's a vacancy: usually due to Garay's injuries. The Gabriel-Diakhany partnership has kept three clean sheets in a row. Gabriel, in particular, deserves praise. He's been at a good level recently and controlled Lukaku like a boss last night. Right back, obviously remains the exception.

Central midfield has been more rather than less. Parejo has been average but Kondogbia and Coquelin have been in decent form. Last night, the latter was the only selection surprise, starting on the right, in an obvious attempt to shore up the right side defensive problem. On the whole it didn't work for me. Coquelin looked uncomfortable there and, weirdly, Soler has offered better cover when on, so that didn't work.

All the above qualities are useless if we can't score and for us the problem in this game was the one that has been blatantly obvious all season: useless in the final third with all our attack-minded players below the level we expect and have seen before, with Soler the one closest to the previous level. Rodrigo, Guedes and Cheryshev have been a shadow of the players from last season/the world cup. Guedes was mostly poor last night. Got into good space many times but poor shooting and decision making meant nothing came of it.

Batshauyi has been possibly the biggest disappointment. A less decisive version of Zaza. He's good at holding up the ball but holds it too long and either ends up crowded out and loses possession or, by the time he passes, the other team has had enough time to get men back. Not good enough for a team built on fast counter-attacks. I'd hoped that last night his English experience would lead to improved performance, but no, it was the same old. He just seems to lack any connection and understanding with teammates. I know I defended Zaza leaving but he had good understanding with Rodrigo, Guedes and Soler and did something with the ball. I wish we still had Zaza in the team.

Gameiro, with the exception of the Sociedad game, just reminds me of Mina from 2 seasons ago: runs a lot but mostly for nothing as he usually doesn't get into useful positions or have the understanding with teammates necessary to make something of it.

A couple of general points from this game and others. We seem to be shooting from outside the box quite a bit and most of the time it's well over. Guedes last night and Rodrigo, Batshauyi, Soler, Parejo and Wass, among others, have all disappointed in this sense. The wild shots from distance are a sign of a lack of confidence: patience and waiting for the chance to find a forward would work better. But it we are going to do it, at least hit the target. We might get a lucky bounce or a rebound which allows us to score.

Secondly, professionals of this level shouldn't be letting themselves be suckered into so many silly yellow card fouls. Rodrigo and Kondogbia were unjustly booked last night, but Parejo did his usual stunt of panicking when his man got away from him and picking up a blatant yellow. We can complain about refereeing mistakes (Pogba's play acting last night was disgraceful) but if we give refs the chance to card us, we can't complain.

Overall, pre-season, or when the draw was made, we'd all have taken a draw at Old Trafford, but I feel a bit disappointed. Short term. like the Villarreal game, it's a decent result, but in the overall context, it's a let down. I saw no improvement in attack from us. Man United are in poor form and I definitely feel that the Valencia of a year ago would have won by a goal or two. Conversely, had Man U been in form, I think they'd have beaten us by two goals at least.

A result better for us than them, but one which makes it very hard to reach next round. In the last game, most likely Juventus, even with a weakened team, will beat us and Man U will win at home to Young Boys. That means we need to take 6 points from the Swiss, hope Man U don't win either of the Juve games and then we beat Man U at home. Doable, but I just don't have the confidence in the team, the attack in particular, as they are currently playing to believe in this and so I think we should brace ourselves for Europa league.

PLAYER RATINGS FROM LAST NIGHT

Neto 8 - positioning always good and handled everything MUFC threw at him. Solid performance.
Gaya 7 - has been in good form and showed no weakness last night
Gabriel 8.5 - excellent game. One of his best in a Valencia shirt. Always reliable, cut out everything and gave no quarter.
Garay 7.5 - solid as a rock and dominated them in the air.
Piccini 5 - I'd give him 6/6.5 for attacking contributions and 4 for defence. Wasn't a disaster but had a couple of bad moments, including nearly conceding a penalty. Replacing Montoya with him has been pointless so far.
Guedes 5 - a let down. Poor first half when he got every decision wrong. Better in second period but still not showing enough.
Parejo 6 - passed well and cleaned up okay but loses marks for his usual silly yellow
Kondogbia 8 - best midfielder on the pitch, made Pogba and the rest of their midfield look ordinary
Coquelin 5.5 - worst game since his return, looked a bit lost at times out of position
Rodrigo 5.5 - disappointing display and still looks far off his best. Put in one decent cross which Guedes missed, but that was about it
Batshuayi 4.5 - big let down again and still not showing the ability we know he has

SUBS
Gameiro 5 - not much of an improvement on Bats and had limited opportunities
Soler 6.5 - probably would have been better to start him. Offered more in both attack and defence.
Cheryshev N/A - had a couple of good moments, but far off his world cup level

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Real Sociedad 0-1 Valencia CF

Valencia CF just recorded its first win of the season and oh boy, what a relief. Valencia CF was under immense pressure to start winning and getting results and thankfully the team broke the string of negative results and recorded their first one of the season, hopefully one of many!

I didn't watch the match at all, it was just too early and I was busy at the time, so if anyone of the other writers are reading this and they did watch the match, they can edit this post and write a full match report, otherwise I'm writing this to show my pleasure and relief for the victory and provide an option for all you guys to write your own feelings in the comments section.

It seems Marcelino made a heapeful of changes from the previous match, but this didn't hurt the performance one bit, in fact it was in the same level as the previous match, which I personally though was one of the better performances of the team since the start of the new season.

So great win today, hopefully the first of many!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Valencia CF 1-1 Celta Vigo Match Report

The vicious cycle continues as Valencia CF is unable to find a win in their 6th league match already, this time only managing a draw at the Mestalla against Celta Vigo.

The match started as good as anyone would want for Valencia CF as Michy Batshuayi made in 1-0 in favor of Valencia CF after just 25 minutes of gameplay, realizing Marcelino's wish for Valencia CF to score first, but ultimately did didn't change anything as Celta Vigo equalized late in the match after a wonderful header by Iago Aspas. The few points that led to the goal were a quick counter attack started for Celta Vigo and Valencia CF players weren't keeping up, Piccini on the right side was slow to mark David Junca and afforded him plenty of space to send a dangerous cross into out penalty area. Final point is that Iago Aspas beat Murillo to the ball and with a powerful and precise header slotted the ball into the net.

A series of few mistakes that led to the conceded goal. These things happen, trying to keep a one goal advantage is always hard, so I'd say individual reactions could have been a bit better, but Valencia CF should have scored more than one goal. We did have the chances, Guedes sent in one good shot just by the cross, Wass had a close range effort that went just wide, Rodrigo has few opportunities, Michy got sent the ball in good fairly good positions, but there was no realization. We didn't have stable legs to control that initial ball and shoot accurately. 

Truth be told this is getting worrisome at this point, you could say we had bad luck in two of the matches, you could say we could have maybe even won in one of those, but 6 matches without a win is the norm right now and its problematic.
Truth be told we did create chances in this match, but there was no good first touch by anyone and the shooting was atrocious, really inaccurate shooting. 

Fortunately just three days later we travel to Real Sociedad where we can try and fix this and hopefully get our first win. I feel like Wass hasn't really contributed anything to be honest in most of these matches, I don't know why Marcelino values him so much, but I would have started Ferran on the right wing to be honest. I just don't see his contribution in this team, I don't think he fits in systematically in this team or at least this formation and tactics. I feel like he might be more suited for a 3 man midfield, but as a CM or a winger he is just not good enough to hold his own. I'd like to see last year's squad fully on the field with Soler on the right wing, Parejo and kondogbia in central midfield, left Guedes and same rest of the players as tonight on the other positions. 

One thing that is also frustrating me is that our right back position is very weak, I'm not impressed by Piccini in any way, he is not very good offensively nor defensively. Vezo is realistically not a right back, he can cover for a few games if someone is injured there, like last season, but come on, he is a natural central defender and that is where he is actually best at. 

We need to find a new right back in the winter transfer window, loan out Vezo since he is not going to get any play time otherwise, 

What do you guys make of our situation, what is the solution? 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Valencia CF 0-2 Juventus FC Match Report

Talk about a bad start to the season, it doesn't get worse than this. We knew coming into this match that it's going to be very difficult as Juventus have had almost the perfect start to their season, while we've had a terrible start and they are an established quality club who've won the Italian domestic title 7 times in a row and have been challenging for Champions league glory for the past few years as well.

So we knew it was going to be a tough match and we've be lucky to manage a draw against such a powerful side, but things started in a very positive fashion for Valencia CF as Cristiana Ronaldo threw her primadona temper tantrum and got sent off within 30 minutes of the match. I couldn't believe my eyes, this meant that Valencia CF now had a chance to get a result, a real and credible chance to actually win at home in their first champions league match.

Unfortunately Juventus playing with 10 men for 60 minutes didn't change anything, and from the one serious chance Juventus had after being down to 10 men, towards the late stage of the first half, they caused major issues for us. One chance after the 30th minute and they caused Valencia CF a heap of trouble which led to the penalty. I couldn't believe my eyes at the terrible defending from the midfield, where I don't remember which player it was, but he easily moved pass 3 of our players rushing towards him and trying to take the ball, coming at an angle towards him and he'd just move the other way and leave them in the dust, allowing plenty of space down the right side, he passed it down the wing, I think it was Matuidi who had plenty of time and space to setup perfectly and provide a really dangerous cross, it wasn't cleared by our defense, the ball fell further behind and they got a shot on goal, it hit the bar and the rebound was traveling left, Parejo rushed towards the ball, lift his leg way too high and hit Joao Cancelo in the face. It was a clear penalty due to dangerous play and hitting Cancelo.

Okay, we've got the whole second half, we are man up, we can do this I'm thinking. Second half starts, decent start to it, until just five minutes into it, Juventus with their first attack in the second half and they cause a ruckus in our penalty area yet again, then Jeison Murillo concedes a penalty for pushing Leonardo Bonucci.

Second penalty shot for Juventus and second goal, just five minutes in the second half. I didn't want to watch after this point on, all hope was lost for me and I knew we wouldn't be able to do anything, I knew it would finish pretty much 2-0 for Juventus. I still watched the game somewhat, had to minimize the video player at least 10 times because of frustration and the inefficiency of our play,

Ultimately we did decent in attack, had some half decent opportunities, we did pressure them and put them on their back foot several times, but nothing concrete, nothing that you know would result in a goal, we were fishing for a goal, basically just throwing the net wherever and hoping to catch something, it didn't work.

Our midfield was miserable, before Cristina Ronaldo being sent off, they had 68% of possession, they had control, they had the initiative, they were move concise and decisive, etc... Once they were reduced to 10 men they still had so much possession, they still had the more precise attacks, the most dangerous attacks, they defended well, positioned well, run so much and so hard to makeup for one less player.

They played pretty much one level above us with one player down. Would they have won without the two penalties? I don't think so, but the fact is they did earn two penalties, they were justified penalties, I'd be the first one to admit it. They deserved the penalties, our defense was way too shaky and insecure and scrambling to defend, a recipe for disaster.

All this said, I still think we have solid chances in the league, we have a solid squad with a lot of depth, we have enough quality, we still have Kondogbia who will return from injury soon, we also have Coquelin who is actually training and slowly gaining fitness after his season long injury last year, he proved solid when he played last season, we'll have to wait and see if he was reach his full potential after such a long injury and he is rather injury prone, this isn't his first long term injury, he's already had one major injury previously as well, but my point is we have solid players and the potential to be really good.

Sometimes you are mentally in a bad place, when you have several bad results in a row it puts your in a mental block, but the players need to get out of it, one win can change things completely and shift things in our favor. 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Valencia CF 0-0 Real Betis Match Report

Valencia CF continues its streak of draws and losses as the team is unable to find a victory even in its 4th match of the season, something which would come as a shock to everyone, considering we have an amazing squad on paper, in fact even improved over last season and with more depth.

The few losses we've had have been covered by replacements who should do at the very least the same as the previous players. Unfortunately what's on paper doesn't necessarily translate in practice and this has been the case for Valencia CF.

Last season Simone Zaza and Rodrigo Moreno worked extremely well, they played off of each other and Zaza took the brunt of the opposition defenders on to him due to his physicality, allowing Rodrigo to be freer and have more opportunities. This season Rodrigo Moreno doesn't have such partner, with Mina being a lot smaller and technical, while Gameiro is not a physical player either, so we are left with strikers who have pretty much the same profile. Michy is a physical player and has the build to feature like Zaza was, but he hasn't been given the opportunity yet.

Marcelino also hasn't decided on who to be the starter on the left wing, with him changing it up often, so there is no consistency in the squad and players have been unable to gel together as much as they could have. Last season it was all set, we had pretty much the same starting 10 people, with the more frequent changes in defense with Murillo, Paulista and Garay changing often and rotating. Other than that its been the same 10 man squad and that allowed them to gel really fast and produce results.

This season we've also had a slower integration, as some players arrived late in the transfer season, primarily Goncalo Guedes and we saw when he came in against Betis how much we've missed a player of his caliber. He was far and beyond the most dangerous player on the pitch and caused all sorts of trouble for Real Betis. We've missed that type of chaotic threat. Ferran is still young and inconsistent, Cheryshev is not a flair player, he is rudimentary and solid overall, but doesn't provide that spark.

To me its clear what the issue is, we've not had the best team balance and composition, we need to start Moreno, Michy in the attack, Soler, Parejo, Kondogbia and Guedes in midfield and Garay and whoever in defense. Gaya has been good, the others in defense have been a mixed bag, there needs to be more consistency from whoever is starting in the back.

I think michy and Rodrigo can play off of each other more, Michy will force more defenders on to him with his physicality and dribbling ability, leaving Moreno more space to get better opportunities. We need Guedes on the wing to provide that chaotic threat, bring in some flair to an otherwise straightforward midfield, Soler on the opposite wing to bring in the hard work ethics and provide help in the central midfield as well, Parejo needs to step up his game, while we should hope Kondogbia gets well soon and stays healthy and fit. We need him at his best.

I wasn't impressed with last nights match against Real Betis, we didn't have any sort of serious threats on their goal, some of the bigger threats came in the second half and we caused more trouble for them when Goncalo Guedes came on, otherwise they were sitting stable in defense with no major issues and were comfortable with our ineffective attacks against them.