Friday, April 25, 2014

Problem

I've got to say I am quite disappointed. There are so many things to talk about with respect to today's Europa League semi-final game against Sevilla and I hope I can get through them all.

If you've seen this game you would've seen that Valencia went in strong from the beginning and actually dominated the game for the first 15 minutes or so of the game. However, Unai Emery knew Valencia had a defensive problem with Fuego covering as center back. As such he played with a strategy to absorb all the pressure, avoid conceding, and then pierce Valencia's weak defense on the break. It was unbelievable how many times their creative players, Rakitic in particular, split the defense with a through a ball creating chance after chance. I mean Rakitic is a highly-rated player with loads of quality but not taking anything from him, you cannot allow that amount of chances at this level. Injuries are not an excuse either. If Valencia want to be a top team, they have to learn to deal with injuries and fight back even when there are injuries. Sevilla also had missing players Coke (through injury) and one of their best players, Alberto Moreno through injury. They still gave Valencia a challenge.

What really broke Valencia though was the first goal; that's where things really went downhill. The play for this goal featured some of the worst refereeing I have seen in my life. Both the assistant referee and the referee missed two consecutive offside passes from Sevilla which lead to the goal. I have no idea how it was missed twice in a row, it was obvious to everyone except the referees. Now while M'bia wasn't going to wait to see if there was an offside and chose to backheel the ball past Guaita at the near post. The Valencia players however, stopped moving after the first offside pass. They just kept waving their arms in protest and let the play go on. Terrible defending. I thought it went without saying that whether offside or not defenders have to do the job.

After the first goal Valencia just broke down and let in a second one three minutes after. Again a Sevilla counter attack was the threat. This time it was 2 Sevilla players vs 4 Valencia players yet they still got past everyone and scored. I repeat, this cannot happen at this level of competition, not at a semi-final nor any other game. One other thing that can't happen is missing easy chances. At the closing minutes of the game, Valencia suddenly sparked into life and created wonderful chances. Jonas missed a point blank shot and Vargas headed the ball over the keeper and into the post when the keeper had come off his line, basically an open net. This has been one of the major problems, lack of consistency. The strikers will be in great form one day but can't keep it up. Mourinho said it a while back, the mark of a true striker is one that can turn half-chances into chances. For a while now, Valencia's strikers have failed to turn even full chances to goals.

The last negative comment I have is about the predictability of play. Anyone watching can tell exactly where Valencia is going to pass, what each player was going to do cause it was just too obvious and the players do it over and over again; there is nothing new. Compare that with Sevilla's play tonight which was quite creative and unpredictable.

Finishing off with the positives for today's game. Keita is slowly but surely going back to his form that made him a starter at Barcelona. He's keeping the ball well and intercepting the ball well. In addition, Guaita has proven himself quite well in goal. Disregarding both goals that went in (one was a clear offside and one was completely the defense's fault), Guaita made some really crucial saves when Sevilla could've made it 3-0 or 4-0. Finally, we got to see newly promoted to the first team left-back Gaya come on for Bernat in the second half of the game and it was quite promising. He seems to be the same type as his predecessors Bernat and Jordi Alba.

Next game is against Atletico Madrid at the Mestalla on Sunday and I've got to say if Valencia play like they did today then it won't be very pleasant to watch. For Valencia the league doesn't matter anymore since Valencia cannot qualify to any European competition via the league, too far behind. However, this is the first of three big games for Valencia. The second will be the return leg against Sevilla at the Mestalla and then it's off to the Bernabeu to face Real Madrid. The most important of those is the return leg against Sevilla so I am quite worried for the games against the Madrid clubs especially since these games are more important for them, they are fighting it out at the top. I just hope the players will put out a fight out there and not lose motivation just because the league is out of hand.

As usual, please let me know what you thought of the game in the comments below. Thanks.

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