Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Deportivo Alaves 2 - Valencia CF 1 [Alaves 2 - Valencia 3 (in Penalty shootout)] Match Report

Valencia CF and Alaves engaged in an entertaining second leg duel for a semi-final berth in Copa del rey. After winning the first leg, 2-1 at Mestalla, we needed a good defensive performance to qualify for the semis. Marcelino went with a strong starting XI.The only surprising start was Maksimovic over Andreas Periera on the right wing.

Line up:
                     Juame
     Montoya - Paulista - Vezo - Gaya
Maksimovic - Kondogbia - Parejo - Guedes
                     Zaza - Vietto

Bench:
Garay, Neto, Periera, Lato, Coquelin, Rodrigo, Mina

First Half:
Fairly cagey affair. Neither team was creating too many chances and the game was bogged down in the middle. Though Alaves were more threatening and employed semi high press. I don't think we had a single shot on goal in first half.  Gaya had a great chance to pass it to Guedes but instead went for Zaza and was defended very easily. The only major incident was Paulista's injury in the 19th minute. Paulista went up for a header on a free-kick from Parejo and landed awkwardly. You could make out his left knee buckled when he was landing. He tried to shrug it off and continue but  it was not to  be. Hope it's nothing serious as Paulista has been an important part of our defense. Initial reports said it was hyper-extension and not an ACL tear. I would take it with a grain of salt and still hope it's nothing serious! The logical sub for Paulista is Garay who was being rested keeping the match against Real Madrid this weekend, but it was not to be.

Second Half:
Started with lot more purpose from Alaves. They started pressing us high in our part of the field. At a time there would be 3 players surrounding Kondogbia and Parejo to steal the ball or prevent them from starting our counter (This I guess has been the recent allusion to opposition figuring out Marcelino). Vietto was replaced by Rodrigo in the 57th min. Though Alaves was pressing us high up they didn't have clear chances in front of goal and were contained to long range efforts mostly outside of middle. Having already been burned by Sobrino in the first leg it was heartening to see the press by Kondogbia and Parejo in the middle to clog up the shooting lanes.

Kondogbia had the first direct chance of the match for us but it came of the bar. Tough chance, nice take, unlucky. Alaves made their subs and ex-Valencia player Munir came onto the field who had an immediate impact with a nicely take header from a cross from near the half line. It was a very good cross and and good run by Munir. Gaya should have done better and not let Munir through. Juame could have come to collect the cross as well. It was just one of those things - One mistake which could prove costly as the aggregate was 2-2 and Alaves had the away goal. Santi Mina came in for Maksimovic and immediately made an impact. A long ball from - I believe montoya, was misjudged by Alaves CB and it fell nicely to Zaza who was able to control the ball and pass a through ball to Mina who hit a nice low left foot finish. Good goal and nothing Sivera could do about. This should have put the duel to rest but Valencia ended up making one more mistake on a long free kick in 86th minute. Vezo over jumped on the free kick and it hit his torso and fell nicely for Sobrino who finished it first time. With Score being 2-1 and level on aggregate extra time loomed large.

Regular Time:
Alaves 2 - Valencia 1
Munir        Mina
Sobrino

Extra-Time
This was one thing that none of the Valencia fans wanted - with so many crucial fixtures in laliga coming playing an additional 30 mins is not ideal.

First Half:
Alaves started very strong in the first half of extra time but lacked quality in final third. Guedes had a strong shot from outside the D at the end of first half of extra time.

Second Half:
Second half, Alaves just petered out and we were dominating, but just couldn't find find the spark in final third to get a chance on goal. The one real good chance that Rodrigo had was deflected by Sivera and went of the bar. Montoya was impressive with his motor and had a nice shot at the end.

Penalties:
Alaves 2 - Valencia 3

Juame was impressive in the penalties. Guessed the right way 2 times and saved on both occasions. Sivera saved well as well.

Alaves     - Valencia (PK shootout)
Pina             Rodrigo
Pedraza(x)   Mina
H.Perez(x)   Kondogbia(x)
Munir          Gaya
Sobrino(x) 

Very impressive penalties by Gaya and Rodrigo. Looked very confident and hit the inside netting. Had read once that the highest probability of scoring penalties is if you aim for the top-underside  or the inside-side netting as they are toughest to reach for the keeper.

Player Ratings:

Juame - 9: Impressive in penalties. Seems to have picked up some mind games from Diego Alves. Great stops. Could have done better with the crosses but overall assured game.
Gaya - 7: Got beaten by the legal push-off from Munir and burned for the goal. But otherwise a flawless game with an excellent penalty.
Vezo - 7: I thought Vezo had an impressive game. Except for the goal where he misjudged the whole thing, very assured defending and I am also seeing a never before seen burst of pace. Just needs to cut out mental errors. He could keep up with many of vertical runs made by Alaves players and get better of them. Saved Guedes whose heavy touch had Pedraza off on the counter with only Gaya left until Vezo put in the tackle to get the ball off.
Paulista - N/A: Looked assured until injury
Montoya - 8: Montoya had a quiet good game. He might not be good at heading, but grew in strength as the game went on. Was amazing in extra time with time and again cutting the through ball and driving the ball to opposition third and had a great left footed shot in 117th min which just went over. No wonder he is the fittest in the squad ( I believe Marcelino conducted this test as soon as he became the coach).
Guedes  - 7: Didn't have much of an impact. But was the best offensive player. Had a strong shot in extra time and good combination play with Gaya and Parejo.
Kondogbia - 7.5: Very assured ball handling and defending (tackling). Just makes me nervous when he tries to dribble out of 3-man rush.
Parejo - 7: Struggled as the rest with offense facing so much pressure. But defended and committed with all heart. Free kicks were a miss and had as usual few astray passes but nothing which became catastrophic.
Maksimovic - 7: Played well. Smart player. Got into attacking positions and passed the ball. Defended well when required.
Vietto - 4: Forgettable day for Vietto. Couldn't get much going in attacking play. Don't think it's just his fault but when he got the ball lost it very easily.
Zaza - 6: Good assist for the goal. Only thing of notice. His first touch is too heavy and Alaves stole the ball of him very easily in the first half by pressing

Subs:
Mina - 7: Took his goal very nicely. Had me worried with his stutter step for penalty but Sivera bit the bullet first and was able to place it to the right.
Rodrigo - 7: Rodrigo imo is way too inconsistent. Today also it was on display. He did all the hard work getting the ball down the wings and just controlled it out of bounds. He followed that up with a beautiful pass to mina who passed it back for the shot that went of the bar in extra time. Had couple of wild swings at the goal(on one occasion complete missed the ball) inside the D.
He just needs to became consistent with decision making and be more poised.  Next season in UCL and Europa - away games you might have 5 chances. Need to score at-least 1.
Garay - 9: Was very assured and great defending. The talk might be the penalty not given. Maybe he was rusty but as soon as he came on got beaten and was a blatant hand ball which the ref didn't give. Lucky! but other than that very assured.
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Sivera - 8: Being 6 feet. I was worried about Sivera's height in goal and the first leg was a disaster for him. But he makes up for the lack of height with good position and anticipation and played very well today. Had a save in penalty shoot out as well! Hope to see him grow more in Alaves.

Overall, I am happy with the result. I want this young team to experience these kind of situations. Directly facing them in UCL or Europa might be hard. Marcelino will have a tough time to recover players for Laliga, but all this is required for next season and in fact to qualify for ULC or Europa next season!