Athletic Bilbao vs Valencia CF Match Preview
Stadium: San Mames
Date: 18.09.2016 16:15 CET
4th matchday, La Liga
Coaches: Ernesto Valverde and Pako Ayestaran
Valencia CF suffered its 3rd straight loss last week at the hands of Real Betis in what was supposed to be the team's turnaround moment, playing at the Mestalla, some mental boost due to the arrivals of Garay and Mangala and just lessons learned from the previous matches.
That wasn't to be the case though, as Valencia CF lost control of the match and went down 2-0, in fact it took being 2-0 down and a player less for Valencia CF to actually start playing properly, equalising the result at 2-2 and gaining a valuable point, but the team kept on pressing and with a player down and full out attack, Real Betis got a quick counter attack and scored a third goal to finish off the game and leave Valencia CF with zero points from 3 matches.
What were supposed to be easy opening matched all ended up as terrible losses, though Valencia CF still has a chance as we have relatively "weaker" opponents for about 6 fixtures, with Athletic Bilbao being the toughest one of the opening 6 fixtures.
Valencia CF will be playing at San Mames and against a historically tricky opponent for Valencia CF, especially in the past several years where Bilbao have been quite good, though this season and the last weren't their great, but they do have an established team play and can bring the fight to any club in La Liga and beyond.
Valencia CF has some terrible news coming into this match as Garay has been injured in training and will be out for 2 to 3 weeks, which means our leaky defense will have to rely on the error prone Mangala who's also new to Valencia CF and Spanish football and Santos who hasn't been consistent and can be a liability, though not as bad as Aymen who's also out injured, which is a good thing.
Valencia's management has had two meetings with Pako and even though officially his job is safe and talk was about different things and show of support, experts and inside sources are stating the obvious, which is that Pako's job is already on the line, with another loss at Athletic Bilbao could possibly spell his end. If not a loss here, then certainly another loss or even a draw in the next game and he will 100% be out.
So he is under pressure to deliver here, he must win, a draw would just increase his stay for one game, but even a loss might not be enough to sack him immediately, but wait for another match, so having just a draw would just prolong the uncertainty to the next match and the next, etc... He needs to win and the team also must play good, which I think might be slightly more likely now with Medran starting, I think Pako has made huge starting eleven choices by not featuring Medran and having Nani in the squad so soon with barely any preseason training with the team, he hasn't had time to gel with the team.
Whatever team Pako decided to field, it better win for his own sake. Sure you could say its not really his fault, the summer transfer window was hellish for Valencia CF, tons of disappointments, no appropriate replacements, late dealings in the market, just the huge uncertainty, it created a lot of issues, but as a coach he is still going to take most of the blame and realistically that is the only thing Valencia CF can change. Peter Lim is not going to go away, not unless the team gets relegated, then I think he will sell the team, or sell off the assets as much as he can and leave, the players are those who they are, nothing can be done till winter and even then we will still be limited by fair play rules and the clubs's economy.
Valencia CF Squad:
Goalkeepers: Diego, Jaume
Defenders: Cancelo, Montoya, Mangala, Santos, Siqueira, Gaya
Midfielders: Suarez, Parejo, Medran, Soler, Fede, Nani, Bakkali
Forwards: Santi Mina, Moreno, Munir
Technical Details Valencia CF (probable setups):
Line-up: Diego; Montoya, Santos, Mangala, Gaya; Suarez, Parejo, Medran; Nani, Moreno, Mina.
Tactics: High defensive line, all round pressure, high tempo pressing, mixed passing, winged attacks
Athletic Bilbao 2-1 Valencia CF
I'm not feeling it against Bilbao, they are a strong, compact team that has been playing together for several years the same core team with the same coach, they play at their home stadium, they have a good history against Valencia CF and this version of VCF is weak, battered, string together, at the lowest point and with probably our best player Garay injured there is little to no hope that we'll get a result here. I'm expecting another loss here, I do think we will probably score as well, but its just going to be a consolation goal and nothing more.
After this loss it will be interesting to see if Pako loses his job and if so, who would replace him?