Sunday, December 4, 2016

Valencia 2-2 Malaga match report

Did this team spend a previous life microwaving kittens for breakfast before spending the morning torturing small children? I'm struggling to understand why we seem to be permanently jinxed. For the third time this season Valencia squander the points by conceding a goal in the 93rd minute. That's a critical 4 points flushed down the toilet. If the team goes down to Segunda, which they will if they don 't start winning at least the home games, they can count games like this as the crucial ones. The frustrating thing, as always, is that there were many encouraging signs.

Prandelli is a man of habit who seems to know what he wants and so far he's stuck with mostly the same sides with little changes. In this game he continued the 5-3-2 that he had debuted the previous week against Sevilla. The only changes were for the injuries to Enzo and Nani, with Medran coming in for the former and Munir being rewarded for his good form by continuing in the team, partnering Rodrigo up front.

The game got off to an explosive start. Even with 5 midfielders, Valencia let Malaga go through their midfield like a knife through butter. This ineffectiveness quickly proved costly. Before I could even start dreaming about a Valencia clean sheet, Malaga had the ball in the net, running down our wing with Abdennour blocking well, but the rebound volleyed home from outside the area. Who was or should have been marking? Where was Suarez? This was a calamity and down to the midfield rather than the defence. 41 games out of 42 we have conceded.

A few minutes later it was all level again. Parejo whipped in a super free kick and Rodrigo made a smart run to plant a great header past the keeper. We had a similar chance in the 14th minute with an almost identical free kick, but Suarez popped up at the wrong end to make a key deflection to take the ball away from Munir who would have had a tap in.

For the neutrals, the first half was a lively one with Valencia edging it. Our left side looked the weak one with Siquiera not doing the business either in attack or and Abdennour, who was having a good game, often having to clean up for him and making some good interceptions. In the 33rd minute Parejo misplaced a pass and just as many of us were cursing him for a business-as-usual "Parejoism" he showed great determination to win back the ball and send the ball across the box, where Medran finished well.

For the first time this season in the league, Valencia were ahead (the team had been leading at half time in the cup against Leganes.)

As in the previous game, Valencia looked less threatening after the break, though we generally provided a more solid wall than in previous performances. While Malaga would have more of the ball and won a lot of the 50/50s, they were unable to do much with it. A really nervy second half looked to be ending in a hard fought victory until Malaga equalised with virtually the last kick of the game. Again, it's hard to argue that it was undeserved, Valencia had sat back for much of the second half and invited Malaga to have a go. Another crucial thing that seems to be missing, especially compared to some of the better VCF sides, including the one from Nuno's first season, is the ability to counterattack. Other sides, when winning like this, would not only be able to close the game down, but would be able to hit back on the break and establish a cushion.

PLAYER RATINGS

Alves 7 - looked solid, couldn't do anything about the goals
Siquiera 4 - weakest link of the back ineffective in attack, we need Gaya instead
Abdennour 7 - decent game, covered well for Siquiera and dealt with the threat of Ontiveros
Garay - 6.5 - good game, decent interceptions and had 80% passing effectivity at the end of 1st half
Mangala 6 - part of a mostly solid defence tonight, this one's down to the guys in front
Cancelo 6 - showed again why he's much better further advanced than as a defender
Suarez 4.5 - hard to imagine wy we traded out Fuego for him
Medran 6 - well taken goal, would Enzo have scored that? Deserves more starts.
Parejo 6.5 - Two great assists, looked tired at the end, had played every minute of all VCF games, so smart move from Prandelli to take him off, the first time this season he hasn't played the full 90.
Munir 6 - some good running and movement, but seems to have more understanding with Nani
Rodrigo 6.5 - great effort and well taken goal, now Valencia's top scorer

SUBS

Gaya 5 - didn't look fully fit, maybe why Siquiera started instead and should have been further back
Fede 5 - struggled to impose control on the midfield
Mina N/A - again looked out of sorts and at this rate his appearances will be limited to late subs


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