The first win for Gary Neville's Valencia eludes him once again. Not for lack of effort though but for lack of time. As a result Valencia CF finish 2015 in 10th place on the league table.
We saw significant improvements in the team tonight. It was a team that played with an intensity, fought for every ball and made some chances on goal. Sure it wasn't enough to get a win tonight but it is a very important sign that we are taking steps in the right direction. A lot of those elements that were missing in Nuno's Valencia are starting to take shape. This Villareal team has been pretty stable every since their comeback into the first divison in terms of coaching, finances and structure. Meanwhile, we all know the ups and downs Valencia CF has gone through this season. A season riddled with injuries, a coaching change, as well as players being left out and not getting game time. And that's indeed the effect of leaving players out with no chance of coming back. Not only do you destroy a player's confidence, belief, fitness and passion for the club, but when the player returns under a new coaching system, they're out of shape and do not gel well with other players out on the pitch.
That's was the case for Negredo. First few games under Neville he's looked out of shape and couldn't communicate with other players on the pitch. After a few games now, he's finally getting into the rhythm of things, looking more fit and was chasing every ball he could.
Neville fielded a very unusual system from what we're used to, with a backline that featured five players in a 5-3-2. This I guess was Neville's way to deal with the absence to Mustafi and Gaya who play major roles in the defense. This was in Neville's view the most stable defense to deal with those losses. It worked for the most part with Villareal having trouble creating chances from open play and the game moving back and forth between Valencia chances and Villareal chances. In fact, the only goal that Villareal would get was through a set piece. A direct free kick just outside the box was perfectly put into the Jaume's top right corner, out of his reach and he could've done nothing about it.
Neville would then shift the system to a 4-4-2 with the introduction of Piatti and Santi Mina as subs to add more fire power. Valencia CF did have a few chances, most notable were from Alcacer. A long ball from the back found Negredo who brought the ball down into Alcacer's path only for the young striker to fire too high. Alcacer would have another try but again too high. They were half-chances and would've been nice to score but they weren't easy.
Valencia CF pressed and created so much pressure in the last few minutes of the game but to no avail and Villareal walked out winners of the derby. I thought the team played great and deserved a win. Neville is definitely improving every game. We haven't seen one game were he took a step back, its always been forward and only time will tell how much he can boost this Valencia CF side.
1-0 Bruno Soriano (64')
Villareal CF (1): Areola, Gaspar, Mussachio, Ruiz, Marin, J.dos Santos (Leiva, 67'), Trigueros (Pina, 74'), Denis Suarez, Soriano, Bukambu (Baptistao, 80'), Soldado
Valencia CF (0): Jaume, Cancelo, Vezo, Abdennour, Santos, Barragan (Santi Mina, 69'), Danilo (Piatti, 74'), Andre Gomes, Parejo (Villalba, 87'), Alcacer, Negredo
Jaume (5) - Wasn't really test today, had a few saves that he was expected to make, could do nothing about the goal.
Cancelo (5.5) - Really active role filling in as left-back for the day. Wasn't as brilliant as last game but decent.
Abdennour (4) - I really dislike how he relies on his strength too much. At times, he just pushes players with his hands or runs into them. I feel like he needs to be more intelligent with his tackling and time them to avoid getting booked every game or giving away dangerous free kicks.
Santos (5) - I didn't see him very much this game. I would'nt have known he was there had the commentator not mentioned his name.
Vezo (5) - lack of game time has hurt him, he looks very sluggish.
Barragan (5.5) - Got into the right channels and areas but the final cross was always lacking.
Danilo (5) - Decent day in midfield, seems to be stable for now compared to previous performances.
Parejo (6.5) - Really put in the miles today was pretty much all over the pitch, giving great passes and making himself available to recieve them back.
Andre Gomes (6.5) - It seems his recovery is in its final stages after that injury. Really active out there, took on players and beat them and played with a lot of flair.
Alcacer (6) - Got in great positions and linked up well with Negredo up front. Was getting involved in buildup play as well which is nice to see. Good pressuring of the opposing defense.
Negredo (5.5) - Looks a lot more fit and ready to play that previous games. Almost set up Alcacer for a goal and chased down every ball.
Santi Mina (5) - Active down the right wing but not really threatening.
Piatti (N/A) - Not enough time
Villalba (N/A) - Not enough time, but looks to have a lot of potential, could be a good mentee for Parjeo.
This game was a sign of good things to come but it gets harder this weekend as we take on Real Madrid at the Mestalla. Should be an intense and exciting game and hopefully Valencia CF would have improved even more by then. Winning this game could give Valencia and Neville some much needed confidence and would help us close the gap to the top four.
Lastly, I would like to wish all the Valencia CF community a happy, properous and healthy New Year. May you achieve all you want and need to achieve and enjoy an even better year that the previous ones. Hopefully, you will enjoy Valencia CF successes with us this year and continue your support for this blog.
Happy New Year and Amunt Valencia!