Monday, February 14, 2011

Valencia CF vs Schalke 04 Match Preview, Champions League

Uefa Champions League, round of 16. Valencia CF vs Schalke 04
Valencia's biggest match in few seasons is almost here. Valencia CF has been out of the Champion League competition for quite a while and last time it was in the competition it went out miserably.
Valencia has had few tests this season to find out if they can compete with the big teams in the biggest competition of the world and the results have been good, which means Valencia has what it takes to compete.

But now its different, its real, its here and its played over 2 rounds. Will the Valencia camp get intimidated, anxious, nervous, its the first time after so long that the team is this far in the Champions League and with a real chance of doing well. Will this pressure make or brake Valencia?

One thing is certain though, if Valencia are to beat Schalke 04 then they need a victory in the first match, which is of course player at the Mestalla. Achieving a good result at home is crucial to having a chance to beat Schalke 04. A good game will be if Valencia wins 2-0, or even 1-0, without conceding goals.

The sides' two previous competitive matches at Mestalla both ended in draws. It finished 0-0 in the 2007/08 UEFA Champions League group stage and 1-1 ten years previously in a UEFA Cup quarter-final second leg. On that occasion Schalke's 2-0 home win sent them through, while the 2007 Gelsenkirchen contest ended in a 1-0 victory for Valencia.

SchalkeFC Schalke 0410 3111322812328916443%
ValenciaValencia CF15 48045397458216746%

Valencia CF play their biggest match in the entire season on Tuesday at the Mestalla stadium and only a win can set the path to beat Schalke 04, as you already all know German teams are very strong at home and with the support of their fans and enthusiasm may create problems for Valencia on the return leg.
This is why its very important Valencia to win the first match as comfortable as it can, preferably by not conceding a goal. Best result would be something like 2-0 or of course anything above like 3-0, etc...
But no doubt that a result of 2-0 will be great and will put Valencia in a comfortable position for the second leg of the match.

Valencia are on a good row of 7 wins in 9 matches in the Spanish league and they would hope to carry their good form over to the Champions League match.
Valencia now occupy 3rd place on the table, benefiting from Villarreal's slip-up against Deportivo this week and is on 47 points from 23 games.
Valencia also has a solid record in the Champions League with 15 goals scored and only 4 goals conceded. This makes a difference of 11, which is the second best difference along with Barcelona and Arsenal, with only Real Madrid having a better difference of 13.

Valencia's last six home games against German visitors have produced five draws and a defeat. Their most recent victory came in October 1996 with a 3-0 success against FC Bayern München in a UEFA Cup first round tie. They have won just three of their ten home matches against German sides; their overall record is W4 D9 L8.

Schalke 04 on the other hand are currently sitting in 10th position in the German bundesliga and have generally been struggling this season, even though they boost some great talent in their ranks like Klass-Jan Huntelar, Raul and their international goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
However the situation with Schalke 04 in the bundesliga they are still a dangerous team and even managed to play a draw with current bundelsiga leaders Dortmund just two weeks ago and won their last match against Freiburg. They are also very strong in the Champions League so far and have one of the best defensive records with Real Madrid and Manchester United the only clubs with better defensive records.

Schalke's record in eight competitive games away to other Spanish opponents includes two wins and a draw. In a total of 19 games their record is W6 D5 L8.

Interviews and conferences: 
Raúl González, Schalke 04 player
Valencia is a team Raúl knows all too well, having scored 12 goals (five at Mestalla) in 24 Liga games against them, plus one in Madrid's 3-0 UEFA Champions League final victory in May 2000. "It certainly won't be easy but, personally, I've got good memories from playing there," he said, sentiments no doubt shared by Spanish club-mates Sergio Escudero and José Manuel Jurado. "I played many games there at club level and with the national team.Valencia are a great team but this is going to be a very even tie. It's always a pleasure returning to Spain. It's a really great incentive for me especially playing against such a strong rival and in a stadium that generates a great atmosphere; it's an extraordinary setting to play a Champions League game
Christoph Metzelder, Schalke 04 player
Valencia and Schalke are a bit similar. We have had big changes as well. Valencia lost their key players in the summer.
I think both teams are saying: It will be hard, but it's feasible. Maybe it's a small advantage for us that the return leg will be here in Gelsenkirchen. I was involved in some great games at Valencia. There were always passionate matches when they played Madrid.
Unai Emery, Valencia CF coach
It's such a beautiful, attractive and exciting game to play in that we are not thinking about a result right now. The favourites for the Champions League are Real Madrid and Barcelona – after that there isn't much difference and Schalke 04 and Valencia are dead level. We believe in our qualities but respect our opponents' too – Schalke are very competitive.
There are several ex-Madrid players at Schalke and it shows you their quality; those players make the difference. This should be something that motivates us. The key point of this round is intelligence over 180 minutes, and being able to overcome individual and collective problems. It is a very important game. I came to this club to take them to where they want to be and there is a great opportunity for growth.
Felix Magath, Schalke coach
We're facing a very strong team who are third in the Spanish league and have done a great job in the Champions League, scoring a lot of goals. Valencia as a team are similar to Lyon but stronger in attack. We are hoping to get a goal to give ourselves a better chance in the second leg. The team are improving because they're getting to know each other and the way we work. In the Champions League we've been doing better because we've had many new, experienced players who needed time to get used to the Bundesliga.

I was expecting a reception like this because of the sense of expectation Raúl brings. Now I just hope he can score tomorrow. Raúl is a great player in football terms and in human terms is an example to follow both on and off the field.

Valencia CF official squad:  
Goalkeepers: Cézar, Guaita.
Defense: Bruno, Miguel, R. Costa, Dealbert, Navarro, Mathieu, Jordi Alba.
Midfield: Maduro, Topal, Ever, Tino Costa, Joaquín, Pablo, Mata, VIcente, Domínguez.
Attack: Jonas, Aduriz, Soldado.
David Albelda and Moya are still recovering from their long term injuries. Mata has been injured for 2 weeks, but its possible to be ready for this match. Jeremy Mathieu was having sickness on Saturday and has been rested and should be available for this match.
Stankevicious is out since he can't play for Valencia CF in the Champions League, but Valencia can select new signing Jonas and has all other defenders fit and ready.

Schalke 04 official squad:
Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer, Mathias Schober
Defense: Benedikt Höwedes, Christoph Metzelder, Lukas Schmitz, Atsuto Uchida, Sergio Escudero, Hans Sarpei
Midfield: Peer Kluge, Jefferson Farfan, Jurado, Julian Draxler, Hao Junmin, Joel Matip, Ali Karimi
Attack: Raul, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Mario Gavranovic, Edu

Valencia CF Technical:
Formation: 4-1-2-1-2
Line up: Guaita; Miguel, Navarro, R. Costa, Mathieu; Topal, Banega, Tino, Chori; Soldado, Aduriz
Tactics: High attacking frequency by the full backs, medium defensive line and opposing field pressure, deep zone defensive midfielder, middle field attacks, mostly short passing with mixed crossing.
With Mata a doubt for this match and Banega and Chori rested, I can't see any other formation that Emery is going to play. Maybe a 4-4-2 would make sense, but that would make our defense vulnerable and with these defensive players we just can't take many risks.
The best answer for attack and defense is to have high ball possession and this is the formation and players that can do that.

Result prediction:
Valencia CF 2-1 Schalke 04
I know Emery is one of those safe tacticians and would be instructing the players to be careful and playing slow and I know that Schalke is going to be defending for most of the match and will be hoping for a draw, but there should be goals. I can see Valencia scoring two goals against Schalke, but I'm not too confident in our defense so I'm guessing we are going to concede a goal too.