Sunday, September 11, 2016

Valencia 2-3 Real Betis

It's almost as hard to do these write-ups as it is to watch the games. Valencia's poor start continues, with a dismal defeat to a weak Betis side torpedoing any optimism generated by the signings of Mangala and Garay.

Valencia started weakly and already looked under pressure in the first ten minutes, almost conceding in the first minute and again, the recalled Alves had to come to the rescue in the 6th after Suarez gave the ball away exposing the defence. This pattern would repeat throughout, with the defence constantly exposed by sloppy play in the midfield. Valencia did look better for most of the first half, but were creating very little and resorting to shooting from outside the area, shots which were either off target or did little to trouble the goalkeeper.

As we've seen so many times, with Valencia unable to score, the other team scents blood, grows in confidence and sure enough, a counter from Betis broke through and with Garay and Mangala outnumbered by 3 attackers and Cancelo hopelessly out of position, Betis scored.

Things went from bad to worse, with Gaya, whose crossing had continued to be ineffective, going off injured before half time.

Suarez had been so bad that he was replaced at half time by Medran, but the new midfield set up hadn't had time to gel when Enzo, who had been mostly invisible and had already deservedly been booked, lunged in with studs high on a Betis player and got a straight red card. We've been done over by referees in the past, but couldn't complain at all on this occasion. Shortly after, the defence again ended up outnumbered, letting in Betis for an easy goal.

It was only after Mina, who had faded after a decent early period, was substituted for Munir that Valencia finally showed signs of life. Munir hit the woodwork before a nice combo between Nani and Parejo put Rodrigo in for a decent goal. Suddenly Valencia looked dominant, Betis looked tired and from a corner, the Betis keeper could only parry a Munir header into the path of Garay for a tap in. Could Valencia really get the 3 points? This was answered again in injury time when the midfield and Cancelo again fell asleep, allowing Betis to tap in the winner at the death. Given the lack of clear chances Valencia created, the midfield constantly giving the ball away and failing to shield the defence and the right back constantly failing to track back, we can't complain about bad luck when this happens all the time. Mediocre. If we can't beat Betis at home, who can we beat? At times, I almost expect to see Koeman or Neville on the touchline.

Just a few records to get out of the way before I go into deciding who was the worst of a bad bunch. 6 defeats in a row equals our record. 4 home defeats in a row in the previously impregnable Mestalla: another record. Losing to Betis at home for the first time since 1986 and conceding in 30 of the last 31 games. Of managers who have managed us for at least 10 games, only 2 have a lower win percentage than Pako: Hector Nunez and Miljan Miljanic. Yep, even Koeman, Pellegrino, Djukic and Neville have done better! In the case of Miljanic, VCF ended the season only escaping relegation on goal difference. Unless performances vastly improve, this season is likely to be similar.

Player ratings
Alves 5 - was mostly ok, but should probably have done better for the second
Gaya 3 - what happened to the Gaya from 2014/15? This version is not good defensively, crosses wastefully and keeps getting injured. Real Madrid are probably ecstatic they didn't buy him.
Mangala 4.5 - reasonably decent debut but had one "Aymen" moment in the first half which could have cost us.
Garay 5.5 - decent debut, looked solid and the goal is a bonus, but can't do the job of three players.
Cancelo 1.5 - had one or two moments on the wing, but as a defender was awful. Needs to be benched or converted to full time winger.
Suarez 1.5 - awful game, kept giving the ball away and failed to cover the defence. Makes paying 15m for Danilo sound like a smart move. Has it come to this?
Parejo 4 - nice work to set up Rodrigo for the goal, but his set pieces were poor and passing inconsistent.
Enzo 1 - after a few games when he started to look better, he was back to his old self. Invisible in the first period and then flying in with rash tackles galore.
Mina 4.5 - had a good period in the first half, but really faded after half time.
Rodrigo 5 - some signs of life and did his trademark dribbling, but it never amounted to much. Nice finish for the goal.
Nani 4.5 - had a couple of good moments, but sulked around in the second half, got booked and if he carries on that way, I can see reds coming eventually. Has been a letdown so far in his games.

Montoya 2.5 - another case where, when you start to miss Barragan, you shake your head. Did little to justify his presence in the team.
Medran 4.5 - an improvement on Suarez, but lacked the quality of previous games and covering the defence isn't his strong point.
Munir 6 - why wasn't he on from the start? Made a clear case for a starting place in the team, who were improved by his presence.

Pako 2 - could soon be yet another name on our managerial merry-go-round if it continues like this. While the team has been weakened, he seems out of ideas to improve things, with a predictable 4-3-3 every game. Questionable team selection as Munir and Medran probably should have started, though Montoya and Cancelo are both so dodgy at right back there's little he can do there.