Thursday, February 16, 2012

Stoke City vs Valencia CF - Match Preview

Stoke City vs Valencia CF
Stadium: Britannia Stadium
16th, February, 2012; 21:05CET
R32, 1st leg, Europa League
Expected Attendance: 27.700
Coaches: Tony Pulis and Unai Emery

Valencia CF founds itself in the Europa League instead of the Champions League after failing to qualify by drawing the first match with Genk and then later also loosing to Bayern Leverkusen 2-1. In the last match with Chelsea there were hopes we'd be able to basically draw and move on, especially since Chelsea was in bad form at the time, but once again we showed our second class and lost 3-0.
Now we face English side Stoke City in what is going to be an interesting match and in which match Valencia CF needs to show its strength and character and be able to win at least minimally.
Stoke City on the other hand fought their way to the round 32 in the Europa League from the start, starting with the third qualifying round beating Hajduk Split 1-0 in the first leg and then beating them 1-0 once again in the second leg for an aggregate win of 2-0.
In the play-offs Stoke City beat Thun 5-1 on aggregate showing its class against the weaker sides. 
In the group stage they finished second in their group behind Besiktas with 11 points to Beshiktas 12 leaving Dynamo Kiev and Maccabi Tel-Aviv behind.

Now Stoke's biggest challenge yet in the round of 32 is Valencia CF and as such they are going to be extremely motivated and playing 120% percent, enthusiastic to show their crowd they can compete with Spain's third best club.

Right now Stoke City are thirteen in the Premier League table with 30 points, safe from relegation, but way off from any top 6 finish. Their best striker is Peter Crouch with 6 goals and he is likely to cause some trouble for our defense with his 2 meters height. They also have Jermaine Pennant as someone more known in their squad and he is with 3 assists.

Stoke City haven't won in 5 matched domestically, loosing four and drawing 1 of their last five matches, though two of those opponents have been Manchester United and Liverpool, but its still a bit of a bummer, although they haven't really been winning much overall as they are 13th place on the table.
They've scored a total of 24 goals in the Premier League and conceded 38 goals and are with pretty much same record at home and away.

Stoke City squad: to be announced...

Valencia CF on the other hand is coming to the Europa League after failing to qualify for the round of 16 in the Champions League by finishing 3rd place behind Bayer Levernusen and FC Chelsea. I guess David Albelda is happy right now as he called this competition as good and that we have better chances of winning this competition, but I beg to differ with teams like Macnehster City, Manchester United, Udinese, Atletico Madrid and even Schalke 04 who beat us last season in the round of 16 in the Champions League.

Valencia CF also lost in the Copa Del Rey recently to Barcelona and although there is no shame in loosing to Barcelona, its still a bad feeling to loose and certainly in the poor way we played for the second leg didn't help things.

In the domestic league Valencia CF is doing much better with pretty safe 3rd place right now and 8 points away from 3rd and 4th places Levante and Espanyol, though it is only this last week that we broke a winless streak of 5 matches.
Against Stoke City our biggest problem would be Peter Crouch with his 2.1 meters height and the fact that English players have more strength and play a more physical game. While Valencia CF is no Barcelona and we have powerful players like Rami, Topal and Aduriz, most are still weaker like Alba, Mathieu, Pablo, Piatti, etc...

Valencia CF squad:
  • Goalkeepers: Alves, Guaita, Adrián.
  • Defenders: Miguel, Bruno, Rami, Dealbert, Víctor Ruiz, Mathieu.
  • Midfielders: Albelda, Topal, Tino Costa, Éver, Bernat, Pablo Hernández, Feghouli, Piatti.
  • Forwards: Jonas, Aduriz, Soldado. 
Technical Details Valencia CF (probable setups)
Formation: 4-2-3-1
Line-up: Diego; Miguel, Rami, Dealbert, Alba; Banega, Albelda; Feghuoli, Jonas, Piatti; Soldado.
Tactics: Medium defensive line, mid field pressure, positional changes from the wingers, 3 way attacks, mostly short passing.

Result Prediction:
Stoke City 1-1 Valencia CF
Stoke City are not some big club and technically are a lot weaker, but what they lack in technique they add up with strength and at home they are going to be a problematic opponent. I can already see Peter Crouch scoring a goal against Alba or Ruiz or Miguel so one goal for them is a certain, with Valencia CF using Soldado's speed to score as well. Ultimatelly I see the match finishing level with one goal a piece.