When you are playing at home with an expectant crowd against a team near the bottom you are expected to win and win well. Especially when the value of your players is way beyond your opponents who are made up of cheap buys and free transfers. When you have so many chances to score but miss each time then it is time for a change. Does the manager go or is it the players who need changing. That is what the Real Madrid supporters will be asking themselves tonight as they cry in their beer. But who cares about them we are here to talk about Valencia.
The game began at a fast pace with both sides looking for the early goal but the play was scrappy and it was obvious that there was a lot at stake for both teams for different reasons. Valencia were playing a 4.4.2. with Paco and Negredo up front where a lot of people have been calling for for a long time. Bakkali was being used on the left flank and was causing all sorts of problems for the defence with his speed and agility and it was from his cross from the right that opened the scoring.
A corner was cleared and when it was returned to him he crossed for Mustafi to open the scoring with his first goal of the season with a powerful header into the top of the net.
The goal was welcomed by the players and fans with the enthusiasm of a last minute goal in a cup final, I think with relief as much as joy. It wasn't to be all one way and Malaga had their fair share of chances with Jaume needing to be at his best to keep them at bay.
The wide players were being used well with Feghouli and Cancello on the right and Orban showing a bit more of his old self linking well with Bakkali on the left. Parejo was showing his skills in the middle spraying the ball about well and Perez biting a few legs in the middle and picking up his customary yellow card for his efforts.
The team was showing good commitment and some good football was being played, well at least an improvement from earlier games this season. Bakkali was replaced just after half time as he seemed to have run out of steam and Fuego came on for Perez who was nearing his second yellow but also looked to have not much energy left having given a good display.
Alcacer looked to have increased the lead in the second half but replays show he was correctly ruled offside by the officials.
To be fair Granada looked a poor side but we just seemed to drop down to their level which we have seen too many times before and considering we beat them 4.0 last season shows that we have a lot to do. Their lack of skills though was made up by their hard work and non stop play. They obviously fancied their chances of picking up some points from us after our poor start this season
The game ended with the single goal but as usual it could and should have been a bigger margin but we have got used to saying that now. Another game without conceding though is also a positive to take considering the positional changes we have been making.
A very welcome 3 points to keep us in the running but still work to be done, however I think we are beginning to look a bit improved and with Gomes soon to return it is not all bad news.
Jaume 7 Another great game pulling off a couple of first class saves particularly one from a free kick. A decision soon to be made on the goalkeeper situation but surely he has to stay in place for now.
Cancello 6.5 Had a good game and his defending is improving, has a good understanding with Feghouli and made some great crosses.
Mustafi 6.5 Did well as usual but a couple of little mistakes which fortunately didn't cost us.
Vezo 7 This guy just never lets us down and is becoming a real star in my opinion. I think we have never been beaten when he has played in a league game. Became a bit more confident in the second half with his passing out of defence.
Orban 6 I thought he did OK but is still below last years standard probably through lack of game time. Certainly an improvement from the Espanol game
Parejo 7 Played really well and kept our game going with his accurate and clever passing. Almost spoiled it though near the end with a lazy back heel in front of goal which could have cost us a goal.
Perez 6.5 I think we are seeing the real Perez now and his work rate is really high. I think he is much improved but just seems to tire near the end. I don't think it is a problem though as we just bring on some fresh legs.
Bakkali 7 Always looks dangerous with the ball and made the only goal. A real star for the future and hopefully will be able to do a full game when he gets up to match fitness. He just adds that bit of extra to the attack that we have missed.
Feghouli 7 Obviously putting in the extra effort at the moment while his contract is still being discussed. Maybe they should not rush it too much if he keeps playing like this.
Alcacer 5.5 I expected a bit more from him with Negredo with him but he was disappointing again, very close to scoring but he needs one to help his confidence I think.
Negredo 6.5 Works hard all over the pitch but still not looking like he is ever going to get more than a goal every few games.
Piatti 5 ( 61 mins for Bakkali ) Tries hard but !, well, just but !
Fuego 6 ( 75 mins for Perez ) Did OK with his fresh legs.
Rodrigo ( 88 mins for Negredo ) Not enough time but I thought the booing and whistling when he came on near the end was not good. That is not going to help his confidence and it is not his fault that we paid 30 million too much for him.
GOAL 27 mins Mustafi
Yellow cards PEREZ, MUSTAFI, ORBAN.