The summer is almost over and upon us is a new Spanish season and qualification for the Champions league group stage. Valencia CF faces a very difficult opponent in its path to advance to the group stages of the Champions league.
The team started the preseason friendlies fairly early, though in a standard fashion in Austria and against an Austrian team. Wiener SK was Valencia's first opponent the even though the players had just returned from vacation they had no troubles dispatching Wiener SK with easy and celebrating a comfortable 4-0 victory.
Valencia CF would continue the good preseason start by beating English Southampton FC by a minimal 1-0 and then facing instantly Werder Bremen, drawing in normal time, but losing 3-2 on penalties.
About a week later came the real test of Valencia CF strength against German champions Bayern Munich. This match showed just how much more Valencia CF has to go in order to reach top level, as the team was humiliated by a ruthless Bayern team who took advantage of every mistake at the back and punished Valencia CF. Bayern Munich would go on to win the match 4-1.
Next preseason match was against PSV Eindhoven in which Valencia CF took the lead early through Paco Alcacer and basically managed to keep that result till the end. Once again, third match is a row Valencia CF didn't seem convincing, ever since the huge Bayern Munich loss the weaknesses in the team were apparent and glaring.
The next match would be against Porto, the team had another week to train and improve and show it off, but once again a lethargic performance and a dismal showing. Even though the result was 0-0 and it was a slow and boring match it was Porto who showed more initiative and had more chances and attacks. Ultimately Valencia CF lost on penalties. Nuno said after the match that he was pleased and liked how the team pressed and dismissed questions about lack of creativity in the attacking third, saying he saw enough creativity to be pleased.
Apparently he was the only one who was pleased and saw that creativity, since most people and readers here on this blog thought Valencia CF played bad and without any cohesion.
The next day Valencia CF played against Koln and Nuno decided to field the reserves and B team, but it was still a fairly strong team on paper, but that didn't make a difference as Valencia CF lost again.
Ultimately it was going to be the match against Roma that was going to show the level of the team as it was the last preseason friendly and the orange cup which the team has always taken seriously and tried to win at all costs.
Unfortunately the plan to win and show a strong and great play was ruined as Roma would win the match 3-1, but more importantly expose key errors in Valencia's play and defensive line.
You can read most of the preseason match reports on the Fixtures&Results page and of course check out the fixtures for the new season.
Personally from what matches I've watched and/or seen highlights or read the reports here I'm not too convinced about our team. Sure last season we did great and the core team is the same, but what is a new name, which new players are going to made last years team better? Santi Mina is a talented young player, but the key words here are 'talented' and 'young', certainly not proven, certainly not prime time ready.
Zakaria Bakkali came on a free transfer from PSV and once again a talented young player with the nod on 'talented' and 'young' again, certainly a player for the future, but not someone who will instantly make a difference and make the team better.
Danilo barbosa is the same mold of player, here on a loan deal to deputize in midfield, no one expects him to be a started and improve the team. So basically the team is the same from last season and Nuno and the officials are hoping the level would improve just by the players we have improving on an individual level. While I do think that can be the case, usually you want several older veteran type players who are able to lead the team and teach the younger players how to be better. The only player that is older, but certainly not the most established is Javi Fuego, hardly the Xavi, Pirlo, Toure, Xabi, etc... type who do so much for the top clubs.
The biggest issue I have personally is with the midfield, I just haven't seen a match in the preseason where VCF established midfield control and used it effectively to start attacks. In pretty much all of the matches the team has always been beaten in the midfield. On paper weaker teams managing to establish more control on midfield and have more initiative.
True, last season the team played pretty much the same way throughout the season and won most of the games, but last season the attack worked wonders for us with the fast paced, direct counter attacking style, but this was mostly due to the high form of Jose Luis Gaya, Pablo Piatti and Paco Alcacer. Their counter attacks were so devastating and of course set piece goals coming from our defense.
That was last season though and you can't rely on the same tactics and absurdly high form of certain players to be able to do the exact same thing this season consistently as well, in fact we are seeing in this preseason that Valencia CF does have major trouble creating chances and scoring goals.
Personally having a bad preseason is making me more interested in our upcoming matches because I'm hoping that the team can surprise me, show good play and of course the most important thing - WIN. I'd like to be positively surprised and to have a reason to celebrate as Valencia CF beat Monaco and continue in the Champions league.
Some things that have happened in the past few days that can kind of worsen things is the renewed Otamendi saga, now once again Manchester United are after him and they are supposedly ready to pay the 50 million buyout clause.
Other reports even suggest that Manchester City have joined in the race to sign Nicolas Otamendi, of course all of these rumors sparked by the fact that Otamendi didn't play against the B team and supposedly asked Nuno to be excused, with him not even featuring in the squad build-up that is supposed to face Monaco.
Ultimately we'll have to wait and see what happens on that front, if we do lose Otamendi its obviously going to be a huge blow for Valencia CF, having to face Monaco without him.