This match marks Pizzi's second loss as a coach only, the other being a few weeks ago to Rayo Vallecano. What does this loss mean? It means Valencia sit now in eight position in the league with 36 points, a whole eight point behind seven place Sevilla who are at 44 points. Valencia can still qualify to Europa League though. Since the winner of the Copa del Rey is granted a free pass to the Europa League and both finalists (Barca and Real Madrid) are all but guaranteed Champions League spots like they are every year, an additional slot opens up. It would be better however, if Valencia secure a higher position since 8th is really unfitting of this club.
Pizzi fielded an eleven in this game with a few changes from the mid week game in the Europa League where Valencia won 3-0 away from home. However, the fatigue was obvious. Fortunately, Sociedad were playing cautiously at the first half or they could've dealt some serious damage. With this cautious play, Valencia had the upper hand but simply could not capitalized on any chances. The team then fell into disorder with the players starting to look silly and playing with no coordination. They were literally running into each other and falling on the field.
In the second half Sociedad took advantage of the fatigue and attacked relentlessly but again wasted their chances. Valencia's best chance was a Parejo free kick which was spot on for Jonas but it didn't go in. The four Valencia players who attacked the rebounded ball made a mess of it, couldn't get it in and resulted in a comical scene where the ball bounced like a pin ball between them. The counter-attack from that play, lead to the goal for Sociedad. The strikers weren't getting the ball enough in the game, first Vargas then newly signed Araujo; both invisible most of the game due to lack of possession which Valencia gave up a lot.
While this could all be due to fatigue from the Europa League game, I don't think that's a very good excuse. I've observed a few serious problems with the team these past few games. First, I don't see Seydou Keita as beneficial to the squad. Every game he's been on, he gets booked, he already got red carded once last week (Europa League) and almost got red carded the week before. In addition, his passes often give the ball away. I think Pizzi should consider putting Victor Ruiz back as a CDM (he was used there a few times before by previous coaches) instead of Keita. At least, until Romeu recovers from injury. Second problem is the lack of impact substitutes and bench in general. Valencia can't keep losing games because of fatigue. Also, in recent games, the only substitutions that had an impact on the game was bringing Fede on. It was clear in the game against Sociedad also. Nothing was being done, Fede comes on and suddenly chances are created. Impact subs of this kind are needed. When Michel came on, however, all he did was get booked almost instantly and was almost invisible for the rest of the game. Finally, lots of bookings are being picked up recently and quite unnecessarily. While part of this is dependent on the referring, the players should avoid unnecessary challenges. There was a lot of them in this game. The players can't get into this habit of picking up cards. I mean the past five league games alone we have seen 21 yellow cards and two red cards. That's an awful statistic.
1-0 Agirretxe (61')
Real Sociedad (1) - Bravo, Zaldua, Martinez, Jose Angel, Bergara, Zurutuza, Carlos Vela, Sergio Canales (Ruben Pardo, 76'), Griezmann, Agirretxe
Valencia CF (0) - Diego Alves, Barragan, Senderos, Ruiz, Bernat (Michel, 83'), Feghouli, Piatti (Fede, 55'), Parejo, Keita, Jonas, Vargas (Araujo, 69')
Diego Alves 6.5 - Did what he could. The goal he could do nothing about but it was a brilliant header. Had some really good saves though that kept the team with a fighting chance.
Barragan 5.5 - Made some good runs forward but produced nothing out of it
Senderos 5.5 - Had some good tackles but a lot of unnecessary ones, the goal happened on his watch.
Ruiz 5.0 - Lacked motivation on the field, he should have used this time to try to earn his spot back
Bernat 6.5 - Good fighting spirit. Linked up well with Fede later in the game when he came on. Had one or two crucial tackles that he made along with some good crosses.
Parejo 6.0- Despite being tired, had spot on passes and some creativity. Almost created a goal but wasted most of the corners Valencia had due to abysmal crossing.
Keita 4.0 - Gets into many unnecessary challenges, loses the ball frequently, rash decision making, really failed to settle in to the club
Jonas 5.5 - Sometimes got in good positions but could not capitalize on his chances.
Feghouli 5.0 - The fatigue was perhaps the clearest on him since he runs a lot. Put in some good effort but was ineffective.
Piatti 5.0 - Perhaps to start the game having just returned from injury wasn't the smartest idea. Very dull and never got into the rhythm of the game. This could be more a tactical mistake than the player himself.
Vargas 5.5 - Follows the theme of the day, ineffective. Largely due to the fact that he barely got the ball cause the team kept wasting it.
Next game is Europa League fixture at home against Ludogorets of Bulgaria. Tie pretty much settled with Valencia up 3-0 on aggregate and all away goals. Should be even better at home.
P.S. Sorry for not posting regularly/on time. I try my best between my university work. I promise more to come.