Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Leganés 1-3 Valencia (Copa del Rey)

Valencia in two-goal win shocker! It's a sad comment on the team's recent misfortunes that this is the first time in over seven months that we've won by a 2-goal margin.

Prandelli stuck with the same 5-3-2 formation as the previous game. The injured Perez was replaced by Medran, with 4 other changes. However, there were no big surprises and no rare appearances for cantera players. With the exception of Jaume getting his first start of the season instead of Alves, the other replacements were all squad regulars: Munir, Gaya and Montoya. I guess the thinking was that, if the usual 11 can't do it, the usual 11 mixed with youth players are not likely to do it either.

Valencia were by far the better side in the first half and, for once, made it count. In just the second minute, Montoya floated a great ball over for Munir who needed just one touch to score. It wouldn't be all Valencia though and in fact it wouldn't be Valencia at all without some heart-stopping moments of fairly cowboy defending. In the 11th minute we lost the ball near our back line and the cross floated to the back post was just missed. Shortly after, Mangala took too long on the ball and just kicked it straight at a Leganés player who raced past him, squared it well and, with Jaume diving the wrong way, we got off lightly, with our opponents skying the ball over the bar.

On a positive note, Valencia were creating some chances, with Gaya heading over and Nani very unlucky not to score with a brilliant overhead kick. The pressure soon told, Montoya played a one-two with Munir and crossed well for Medran to head home. Valencia were 2-0 up, but looked almost determined to throw it away. Mangala was throwing himself around clumsily, got booked yet again and conceded a free kick in a dangerous position. In contrast, Montoya was having a good game, but there was the problem of him being too far forward and a Leganes break led to a dangerous opportunity, with Mangala redeeming himself by making a great block. From the resulting corner, Jaume produced a great one-handed save. For the first time this season, Valencia were leading at half time.

The second half saw a less assured Valencia performance, passes were being misplaced, the midfield was failing to assert control, chances were not being created and Leganes were being presented with too many chances and sure enough, Valencia gave away a needless goal in the 60th minute. There hardly looked any danger, with 3 defenders around one Leganes player, but he still managed to turn them and beat Jaume, who also should have done better. There were nervy moments after that, as Leganes pressed for the equaliser. With Mangala on the verge of a second yellow card, he was subbed off for Santos, while Fede and Bakkali would come on for Munir and Nani, leaving our forward line as the somewhat unusual Bakkali-Fede combo at the end, a clear sign of how lacking in depth we are in strikers.

Weirdly, it paid off. With the game petering out and Valencia seeming set for a narrow win, Bakkali was put through on the wing. He showed great skill in cutting inside and scoring from a narrow angle, as Leganes players stood off.

Not an amazing performance, with still some glaring issues, but the attack looked better with Munir in it, but it remains to be seen if 5-3-2 is the answer for us. We sacrificed a lot of possession and often got caught out on the wings. Nonetheless, a morale boosting win and one that should give us enough of a lead to reach the last 16. If you missed it, goals are on youtube at links like this one.

PLAYER RATINGS

Jaume 6 - great save in the first half, but looked out of sorts at times and should've done better for the goal.
Gaya 5.5 - limited impact and needs to work on his anticipation, as he got caught offside several times
Abdennour 6.5 - doing much better in this formation, made some timely interceptions and covered well
Garay 5.5 - at times the communication with Mangala doesn't seem to be there as it's unclear who should cover who
Mangala 4.5 - a let down, clumsy and had to use physicality to make up, will get sent off before long if he keeps this up
Montoya 7.5 - best game in a Valencia shirt. Lively and threatening and assisted both the first half goals.
Suarez 4 - utterly anonymous. Don't remember him touching the ball once and after 30 minutes I even had to check that he was playing.
Parejo 6 - limited to covering the midfield but was still able to link up at times
Medran 6.5 - good to see him back, decent first half with good passing, but less effective in the second
Nani 7 - decent game, creative and unlucky to score
Munir 7 - given his chance and took it well. Now joint top scorer with (a pitiful) 3 goals. Should start in future.

Subs
Santos 5 - couple of nervy moments and he looked rusty and not better than Mangala.
Fede N/A - limited impact
Bakkali N/A - showed why he's often the go-to impact sub with a great goal out of nothing


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