Saturday, August 2, 2014

Preseason Coverage: Valencia CF 2-2 AS Monaco

Much better game from Valencia CF than the previous two friendlies, but work still needs to be done. There is another game tomorrow against Benfica and it will be interesting to see if anything will change.

Nuno started things off with a 4-4-1-1 formation, with Rodrigo starting as the spearhead of the attack and Paco on the bench. Behind him directly was Andre Gomes while Parejo and Fuego formed the midfield partnership. Piatti didn't start and the left wing was given to Rodrigo de Paul instead, while Feghouli featured for the first time in this preseason playing on the right wing. Cissokho, Vezo and Otamendi got to start again while Barragan's horrendous performance in the last friendly wasn't enough to stop him from starting ahead of Joao Pereira.

Rodrigo is finally starting to establish himself within the team. With Paco on the bench, he seemed to have loads of space and often drifted wide causing lots of trouble for the Monaco defense; not just as an offensive threat but also had some really dangerous passes. His vision at times was outstanding.

Despite rumors that the club plans to offload Barragan, he did put in a good showing today. He had good overlapping runs and caused plenty of trouble on the left side of the Monaco defense in the first half. His counterpart Cissokho, also had a good day and his defensive performance was finally complemented with a great offensive threat. He set up Alcacer's goal and could've done one more if Carles Gil had finished off that chance, which really should've been a goal.

Feghouli's technical ability and pace wasn't lacking today despite it being his first appearance following his World Cup campaign with Algeria. However, it was interesting that Nuno replaced him in the second half for Piatti to test him out on the right wing. That didn't last long as few minutes later he took off de Paul, who had some sparks of brilliance but nothing more, put Roberto Ibanez on the right wing and returning Piatti to the left.

The defense seemed to be shaky at times. The first goal conceded was a Ruben Vezo own goal which caused Valencia CF to go a goal down against the run of play having dominated for the majority of the first half. The second goal had Ocampos cut inside Vezo and beat Alves out from range. While that was poor defending, Alves should've really saved that (maybe his injury is still affecting him). Alves just wasn't looking all too great in goal today. If he wasn't ready to come back from injury, Nuno should've given Jaume the start. Vezo had some good tackles but his positioning and anticipation still aren't up to par. Valencia CF need to really work on getting those center backs (two more could come in considering Ruiz might leave). Otamendi had a solid performance barring a few silly moments.

Andre Gomes wasn't at his best today and was for the most part quiet. Parejo on the other hand was a maestro in midfield and seems to be well on his way to regaining his form. Along with Fuego, they had complete possession of the midfield, shutting out Moutinho. Great passes from Parejo and some really clean footwork.

At the front, Paco, who had come on for Rodrigo, took very little time to find the net. His positioning for his age always impresses me.

Anyways, tomorrow's game against Benfica is something to look forward to, especially since we signed two of their best players and are on the way to signing the third. Let's see what happens.

0-1 Ruben Vezo (o.g.)
1-1 Ricardo Carvalho (o.g.)
2-1 Paco Alcacer
2-2 Ocampos

Any thoughts on today's game? Best or worst performers?