Monday, February 24, 2014

Valencia CF 2 - 1 Granada CF Match Report

Valencia survive a scare at home, only to clinch the victory in the last minutes of the game. After the late win in Cyprus against Dynamo Kiev on Thursday's Europa League match, the team leaves it late again after struggling through most of the match. This match was also a debut start for both Ruben Vezo and Seydou Keita.

The first half was quite poor. Possession was not made the most of and the majority of the play was impatient. The only shots on goal were long range efforts from Valencia youngster Fede, which were dealt with by the goal keeper. There wasn't many other chances since Granada were really tight at the back and trying to hit Valencia on the counter, which they did several times. One of the times, saw a Granada player go through both holding midfielders, Keita and Fuego, and into the left side of defense, were he was stopped by Barragan, the right back for the evening. Thankfully, none of the Granada efforts went in.

The second half started with the same clumsiness as the first half with Granada immediately punishing Valencia. Fuego failed to clear a ball from defense and basically gave the ball away to Granada's forward Piti, who had no trouble slotting it Alves from that range. After periods of struggling to break down the defense, Pizzi introduces Alcacer to the game for Keita and Jonas for Vargas. Only 10 minutes after coming on Alcacer made a really well timed run onto the end of Feghouli's cross and leveled the scoreline. Recently, Alcacer's runs have been spot on and so well timed which I think gives him an edge over his fellow strikers. A short while after, Pizzi brings in Michel for Fede. This was a mistake in my opinion. Michel has played so badly in recent games and lost possession so many times this game. Every time he gets the ball possession goes to the other team. He did however get some shots on target. I hope the clumsiness today was just the player's fatigue from the Europa League and not something we see next week. Not every time we're gonna get saved by a late strike in the 91 minute. It was Ruben Vezo, on his first start to rescue the team. It was however, a good confidence booster for him.

Overall it was a scare tonight with joy at the end. Squad rotation and organization need to be addressed since a lot of the players on the bench (Michel, Jonas, Guaita) have not performed as decent replacements in recent games at least. In addition if someone like Parejo gets injured or suspended no one can fill the same role adequately. There is a clear lack of alternatives in some positions while overloads in others which should be and reportedly will be addressed this summer transfer window.

0-1 (Piti, 47')
1-1 (Alcacer, 64')
2-1 (Ruben Vezo, 91')

Valencia CF (2) : Diego Alves, Barragan, Mathieu, Ruben Vezo, Bernat, Parejo, Keita (Paco Alcacer, 53'), Fuego, Feghouli, Fede (Michel, 73'), Vargas (Jonas, 59')
Granada CF (1) : Roberto, Nyom, Coeff, Murillo, Angulo, Rico (Fatau, 21'), Iturra, Reico, Piti  (Foulquier, 85'), El-Arabi, Brahimi
Diego Alves, 6.0 - Wasn't troubled too much throughout the game. Saved every shot that came his way and could no absolutely nothing about the goal since Fuego gave it away so close to the net.
Bernat, 6.5 - Great energy all around. Got forward often, delivered crosses and won corners. Tracked back quickly despite coming forward
Ruben Vezo, 6.5 - Great debut, solid at the back. More viable than Costa as a defender and scored the winning goal late in the game.
Mathieu, 5.5 - Tracked back decently and covered his ground most of the time.
Barragan, 6.5 - Great work ethic. Helped out in defense everywhere and came forward often but wasn't picked out often.
Fuego, 4.5 - Wasn't his usual self in front of defense. Very weak presence, gave ball away while covering in defense which resulted in Granada taking the lead.
Keita, 5.0 - Well away from his form at Barca, wasn't his usual self either. Slow and gave away posession.
Parejo, 6.0 - Provided the assist for Ruben Vezo's late goal from a free kick. Some misplaced passes but overall provided some useful passes to spread play and penetrate the heavy defense.
Feghouli, 6.5 - Great effort as in recent games. Provided a great assist for Alcacer's goal and almost assisted a second goal. He was a trouble for defense with his dribbling and many crosses.
Fede, 6.0 - Great energy from the youngster. Provided constant pressure on the keeper with long range efforts in the first half. His presence slowly dwindled in the second half.
Vargas, 5.5 - Invisible for most of the game. Looked really fatigued and slow out there.

Alcacer, 6.0 - Instant impact substitution. Made a great time run and was rewarded with a goal. His presence was not felt afterwards.
Jonas, 5.5 - Came on and tried to do something. Provided some composure to a team that was lacking it. Had some good shots but didn't trouble Granada too much.
Michel, 4.5 - Gave away possession time and time again, with bad passes/long range efforts when the team really needed to be patient to find the winning goal.