Valencia CF's unbeaten streak has finally come to an end in La Liga (13 games) after what was quite a shocking display against Getafe. The talk of surpassing Benitez's record was pushed aside by Marcelino as he made it clear that the focus was results and not equaling record. Well, that clearly wasn't the case as we saw how the game turned out. This was also a key game to win as it was against winnable opposition, we were in good form and most importantly Barcelona had dropped points against Celta Vigo yesterday. A win would've put Valencia 2 points behind Barca and now we find ourselves sitting 5 points behind them. Still an excellent position in the table, but Atletico, Real and Sevilla are hot on our heels now (1, 3 and 3 points behind respectively).
Huge credit for the game has to go to Getafe: they knew our game plan, came up with a counter measure and remained focused the entire game in it's execution. Right from the get go, our players were closed down, pressured and harassed off the ball. They focused mostly on shutting down our key passers in Parejo and Carlos Soler. It seemed that every time Soler got the ball he was tackled instantly and taken to ground. Getafe took charge of the game and eventually put the ball in the net after a cross/shot deflected off one of their players and beat Neto. Fortunately, the goal was correctly ruled out since the player that caused the deflection was in an offside position.
This is when the problem with Getafe's strategy would catch up to them. Their challenges were really aggressive and without restraint. As such it wasn't surprising that within 25 minutes of the game, Getafe's Mauro Arambarri got booked for a rough tackle on Montoya from behind; and having picked up a booking just 4 minutes prior, he was sent off.
At this point, I thought the space would open up for Valencia and Getafe would retreat to their box to defend. Of course, it's not in our advantage since our specialty is counter attacking and not picking apart tight defenses. Getafe, however, maintained their presence and still managed to press our players off the ball quickly. There was a bit more space but the sloppy Valencia that we've seen at times. The bit of space could not be capitalized on with all the sloppy passes and player's slipping. With all the challenges Getafe was commiting to, we did get several free kicks and Parejo hit them very well but Guaita saved them all just as well. These were honestly our best chances. There was one other chance where Pereira got in a good crossing position on the right and almost picked out Rodrigo (similar to the goal against Barcelona) however the Getafe players threw themselves in front of the cross and stopped it.
I had hopes that we would pick things up in the second half as they have in previous games. With the Getafe players going down at every challenge and trying to get our players booked to even the game, Kondogbia who was already booked was withdrawn with Nacho Gil taking his spot. Getafe continued with the same mentality as the first half and had one really good chance. A through ball cut apart our defense and found Angel Rodriguez in plenty of space with only Neto left to stop him. Fortunately again, he took too many touches and barely missed the far post. Then, what happened in the first half, repeated itself. A shot from outside the box from Bergara deflected, this time off a Valencia player and beat Neto. After the lead, Getafe moved to protect their lead and played off the counter.
A lot of the time it felt like Valencia were the ones playing with a man down. We also started getting impatient and rushing everything. Crosses were put in from really far out when there was room to get closer. A corner routine from Parejo found Soler in plenty of space but the shot went into orbit (difficult shot to take but still good chance). That's when Parejo started doing these overhead passes instead of the patient ground passes. The Getafe defense found these very easy and easily reclaimed possession every time.
Pereira was taken off and Santi Mina brought on for the last 27 minutes, however without much success. The last minutes of the game featured many Valencia efforts, crosses, and shots. All sloppy, rushed or ended with poor execution. It just wasn't our day. We ended up with 65% possession but nothing to show for it. We went against 10 men for 65 minutes but couldn't take advantage and ended up conceding.
Honestly, the passing and shots in the past few games has been getting a little bit sloppy and maybe this is a wakeup call so we don't fall asleep. This game also showed that we don't really have players we can call for off the bench to change the game or offers much difference to what is already there on the field. Sure, we were missing Guedes but that's not really an excuse. Zaza will be unavailable when they decide to go through with his operation. We need a backup plan both in players and tactics. I have no doubt that Marcelino will call them out on everything and get them back up to the level we've seen earlier in the season.
As for ratings, honestly only Parejo and Zaza had any notable significance but even then sometimes were sloppy. The other players played at a considerable lower level than what they are capable of playing. We have 3 games left: Celta Vigo (Home), Eibar (Away) and Villareal (Home) before the winter break and transfer market opens. Are they winnable? Yes for sure. Should we expect a win? Not after today, we shouldn't let our guard down regardless of opposition. You never when they could surprise us. Celta will be on a high especially after taking points off Barca. It should be a good game at home and should be great to watch. Barca could slip up at any time and we need to be getting these points whenever we can. While we're in form, we could cause trouble for any team and every game is winnable. Let's hope this is just a minor slip and look forward to a great result against Celta!
Please let us know what you thought of the game? Credit for Getafe or bad play by Valencia? Or both? What went wrong? What to fix? Any players did well or poorly? Your comments are always welcome and appreciated! Thanks!