I know the problem. You know the problem. You'd have to be blind not to see it. Valencia is toothless up front. This affects all areas of our game. With no one up front to hold the ball up, the pressure immediately switches to our midfield and defence. Prandelli attempted to fix this, opting for a 5-3-2, with Abdennour recalled to play in a 3-man central defence and Siquiera and Cancelo as attacking full backs, with Nani partnering Rodrigo up front. Any defence which has Siquiera and Abdennour covering our left side causes shudders, but for the first half the formation generally did its job. With two proper strikers, we could even win with this formation, but that remains a dream.
The first half was mostly a turgid affair. Neither team really had many chances. A worrying moment came in the tenth minute when Sevilla were able to pass straight past 3 of our guys, though Vietto was flagged offside. Valencia's main chance came 5 minutes later when Rami misplaced a pass and Nani intercepted well, but blasted high and wide. The game was scrappy for much of this half, with Abdennour often charging around like a bull in a china shop and being lucky to avoid being booked. One of the problems for us lay in possession, which we struggled to retain and our passing was ineffective: 54% completion midway through the first half compared to 69% for Sevilla.
Sevilla were playing dirty and we were getting a few free kicks, but were unable to do anything with them. The main chance came in the 32nd minute, with another mistake by Rami being intercepted by Parejo, but his first touch was poor and a corner was the best we got.
For only the third time this season, Valencia had kept a clean sheet in the first half. But doing nothing up front was inevitably going to tell and in the 52nd minute Sevilla pressure lead to an own goal from Garay.
Valencia responded well. In the 60th minute a Parejo special almost caught the keeper out from distance. Nani shot over after turning well a minute after. Munir came on for Abdennour, turning the 5-3-2 into our usual 4-3-3. With Sevilla rattled, Cancelo threaded a good ball through for the sub Munir who showed Nani and Rodrigo how it should be done with a great finish. Though, Sevilla looked nervous after that, they were still able to come back. I've said it before, but Parejo fades badly at the end and it was his mistake, losing the ball which led to the corner from which Sevilla scored, exploiting another of our weaknesses: awful defending at corners.
Mina and Gaya came on, switching to a 3-3-4, but in a chaotic finish, we were unable to get anything, with Gaya blasting straight at the keeper with the last kick of the game to finish off another lousy day.
Alves 6 - Not a lot to do
Siquiera 4.5 - Didn't look fully fit to me. Struggled a lot with Sarabia and offered little in attack.
Abdennour 5 - Not one of his worst games, but the same criticisms as before, too physical, lucky to escape a yellow and awful, unimaginative passing.
Garay 5.5 - Did his job for most of the time, but hasn't been the top class defender we hoped for.
Mangala 6.5 - Decent job in defence. Has been our best defender this season.
Cancelo 6 - Better off as an out and out right winger than a defender, some sloppy passing at times but great vision to create the goal.
Suarez 4 - Bypassed too easily at times and still not making a case for a permanent move.
Enzo 5 - Needs to show more control of the midfield than this and be better with passing.
Parejo 5 - Had his moments, especially with the free kick, but we'd be better off replacing him with Medran for the last 20 minutes.
Nani 5.5 - Some good tricks and skills but lacked understanding with his partner.
Rodrigo 4 - Had very little to work with, but also missed a couple of decent chances.
Munir 6 - Great goal, should get more starts.
Mina N/A - largely wasted in a central midfield position, should be given more chances as central striker.
Gaya N/A - would have been better than Siquiera in a 5-man defence.