This game was Valencia's season in miniature. Awful start, terrible first half, shaky at the start of the second part and then a decent reaction, but one which is too little too late and which doesn't take away the bad taste and the feeling that this team should be doing much better than this.
Earlier in the week there had been worries, especially about the defence, with Mangala suspended and Abdennour still injured and questions about whether Garay would recover from his concussion. In the end he did, to partner Santos, but it still didn't prevent VCF leaking 3 goals, most of them stupid ones which never should have happened.
We were on the backfoot from the very beginning. Santos got caught too far forward, but still, the long ball over looked like it wasn't achieving anything, however Juanmi cut it back hopefully and the ball bounced off Alves' legs into the net. There were 33 seconds gone and already we were behind. It was hardly good for morale in a mostly empty Mestalla: the official attendance was 26,101, which I think is the second lowest this season for a home game.
Thereafter, despite roughly equal possession and Sociedad not playing that great, Valencia struggled to create chances. Worse, the team didn't seem that bothered and were hardly exerting themselves looking for an equaliser. When we did get some half chances the decision making was poor. Enzo dispossessed well but blazed over in the 19th minute. Nani did exactly the same a few minutes later. The team was then punished for its lethargy. Siquiera had already dawdled too long on the ball earlier and did it for a second time with dire consequences. His trailing arm hit a Sociedad player and yet again, Valencia had a harsh penalty against them and were 2-0 down.
The entrance of Lato for Siquiera at half time at least improved things at left back for a while, though, with VCF still not busting a gut, it was Lato who got turned and lost his man for the third and the defence and Alves should all have done better for that. Game over it seemed, but strangely, after padding around aimlessly for over an hour, Valencia came to life. Santos' header won a penalty and Nani slotted it home well. Another sub then made a difference. Cancelo, playing in his better position as a right winger, was giving the Sociedad defence a headache and put in a great cross which Zaza turned in at the back post. Could Valencia do it? The team tried a few attacks, but then ran out of steam around the 80th minute with the game petering out to a disappointing defeat after that.
While it was nice to see the rally between the 60th and 80th minutes, it was much too late to rescue Valencia from the predicament that they'd dug themselves into and shouldn't have been in. If Valencia were a boxer, they'd be better off throwing in the towel now to save themselves any further embarrassment. We still have 4 games left including probable losses (if the team continues to play like this) at R.Madrid and Espanyol and a tough home game with Europe-chasing Villarreal. Sadly, after a decent run that took the team to safety, the team seems to have relapsed into old ways to such a degree that I'm not even sure that it's worthwhile even watching the remaining games. If I were Voro, I'd give some of the youth players, including Bakkali a chance, they can hardly be less up for it than the overpaid sloths in the first team.
Alves 2 - two mistakes in three games have gifted other teams goals, also had a few shaky moments taking too long to clear the ball
Siquiera 1 - just awful and since he's leaving in the summer anyway, should be relegated to occasional cover for Lato or Gaya.
Santos 4 - not a bad game to be fair, but not a great one either and the team missed Mangala. Another player who should move on in Summer.
Garay 4.5 - has improved this year but was a bit off the boil tonight
Montoya 4 - not his best night and was out of place for the first goal
Enzo 4 - did fight in the end but passing and decision making often a let down
Soler 4.5 - clearly still a work in progress and often goes for a dribble when he should be passing
Orellana 5 - had a better game than usual and offered an attacking threat but lacked link up and understanding with teammates
Zaza 5.5 - same as ever, working hard and got a good goal but spoilt things somewhat with a bit of a stupid retaliation to earn a silly booking which rules him out of the Real game
Nani 4.5 - still not sure he's 100% fit, got in good positions but can be a bit too greedy
Munir 3.5 - helped out in defence but did little in attack
Lato 5 - big improvement on Siquiera after coming on, should be second choice after Gaya
Cancelo 6 - good game, but sadly the damage was done when he came on
Mina 3.5 - bit like the team itself, blows hot and cold. Great on his day but in games like this ineffective.