Valencia's centenary year was supposed to be a triumphant one, with the team consolidating its place in the Spanish and European elite. Instead, as we all know, it's been a massive disappointment, with a series of limp attacking performances making the team simply hard to watch. I usually stick with the games until half time and then, in frustration, leave the commentary on in the background while I go and do something else and I know I'm not alone. It's only reasonable defence and the fact that traditional rivals like Sociedad, Villarreal and Bilbao have also been doing poorly that has saved us from being in a relegation position. Compared to results achieved in the same games last season we have dropped a point against R.Madrid, 2 against Betis, Celta, Leganes and Sevilla and 3 against Espanyol and Girona, while gaining 1 versus Villarreal and 3 versus Getafe, so even just achieving the same results as last season in the remaining games would leave us outside top four, which is out now and I seriously doubt we can even make top 7 now.
Worse, the reasons for it don't seem totally clear which makes solutions hard. The team and manager are the same but nothing seems to work. Various players have seriously dropped off on last year's performance, Kondogbia, who was a titan last season, doesn't even make the line-up any more, and few people care, as he's been worse than Coquelin when on, Guedes doesn't excite and Rodrigo has reverted to the Rodrigo of early seasons with us. Marcelino's tactics seem too rigid, lacking a plan B, but I think most supporters know from hard experience that mid-season managerial changes have rarely helped us, while they've definitely undermined our reputation in the long term. There has also been the Zaza question, but I'm not convinced that things would be better with him still with us. He came to us with patchy form, had a brief purple patch, then reverted to type, notching a miserable 3 goals in his last 24 appearances. In his home country, at Torino, he's struggled to make an impact, starting just 3 games, subbing in 11 times, usually in the last 25 minutes and scoring just once. He's clearly as out of form as everyone.
So to tonight's game. Valencia will finish third whatever happens. So a dead rubber game, right? Not exactly, besides the morale boost from a win and the bragging rights gained from sticking it to a much loathed figure like Mourinho, there are short term and long term advantages to winning.
Short term, a draw earns us €900,000, a win nearly 3 million. There's also the seeding situation in the Europa league. The best 4 third-placed teams will be seeded and the others unseeded. Currently, we have 5 points and of the four groups that have finished, Napoli have 9pts, Inter 8, Bruges 6 and Galatasaray 4. Looking at the groups still to play, it seems that only a win will get us seeded, draw or lose and we will be unseeded in Monday's Europa league draw. Longer term, a win improves our European ranking, making it more likely we can get a better seeding in future, while also earning more money due to a better ranking.
In teams news, the four Gs are out. Gabriel, Guedes and Gameiro are injured, Gaya is suspended. I'd expect to see Neto in goal rather than Jaume, with Lato on the left and Diakhaby and Garay in the centre. Right back will be interesting, it would be a good chance to rest Wass and bring Piccini back Cheryshev will likely start on the left and Parejo in the centre. Kondogbia should start this one to give Coquelin a rest with Soler making up the right wing. Up front, Bats should start with one of Mina and Rodrigo rested and then coming on later as a sub. Kangin is on the bench and this would be a good time to blood him in the second half.
I'm not sure how much of this one I'll watch and it finishes late my time so I won't be doing a match report tonight. Please use this thread to give us your thoughts before, during and after the game.