Monday, October 31, 2016

Deportivo 1-1 Valencia

A year ago to the day the boos and veteya chants rang round Mestalla. It seems strange now, because we'd just beaten Levante 3-0, were seventh in the table with a 4-3-3 record and second in our champs league group, five points ahead of the third team with 3 games played. Those days seem like a golden era now.

In 38 games since then, Valencia's record is W10 D9 L19. Thirty nine points from the equivalent of a season's worth of games. If we'd got that points total last season we'd have escaped relegation by a single point. We've conceded a goal in 37 out of those 38 games. It doesn't matter who the opposition is. Even Deportivo, the team with the worst attack in the whole of La Liga can still manage to score against us.

I said on the forum that we should consider preparing a template for future match reports, because our games seem to follow a familiar pattern: lots of possession but totally ineffective with it, sloppy passing, missed chances, letting weaker teams dominate us for large periods of the game and, quite often, not playing as a team.

We'd debated who should replace the injured Gaya at left back. Most of us were going for Montoya, with Cancelo dropping to right back. Prandelli, in his most dubious call yet, opted for Abdennour. I guess he wanted to reward Abdennour for a half decent performance against Barca (penalty aside) but his faith proved misplaced as Depor effectively targeted that side.

The first half produced many nervous moments. Luckily, as I said, Depor's attack has been the most useless in the league, so they were rarely able to take advantage. Nonetheless, Alves had to come to the rescue a few times. Up front for Valencia, it often looked like every man for himself, with the front three almost acting independently, with little interaction. Rodrigo had limited opportunities, but squandered three of them, including two which were (wrongly) subsequently penalised for offside. Just before half time, a cross came from Abdennour's side and Depor were in the lead. As they'd created the better chances, it wasn't unfair.

Valencia looked a little better after the break, especially when Munir replaced Abdennour. Not that Munir had a particularly good game, but he was a bit less greedy than Cancelo. In the 56th minute, Parejo robbed a Depor player, put in a cross, and Nani sent the ball back for Rodrigo to poke home, with questions from Depor as to whether the ball had fully crossed the line. (Replays seem to say yes, just about.) This wouldn't be the only controversial decision. Late in the game, an attempted cross from Munir hit the arm of a Depor player. It was a carbon copy of an incident in an earlier game when Abdennour conceded a penalty, but as usual, Valencia seem to be constant victims of inconsistency.

Valencia were pushing forward towards the end and Rodrigo and Montoya missed chances, though the home side had some of their own. In the end a draw is a fair result, but the coming weeks bring much tougher challenges and we need to be much better than this if we want to make the top half of the table.

Player ratings
Alves 7 - another decent game and had to come to the rescue of us a few times. Can be suspect with aerial balls and his distribution could improve, though.
Abdennour 3 - after a decent performance against Barca, it was business as usual. Clumsy, caught out of position and gave away too many needless fouls. His passing remains awful and unimaginative. Wouldn't be a huge surprise if this was his last start in a Valencia shirt, has to be a prime candidate to be sold in January.
Garay 5.5 - generally did his job, but needlessly booked
Mangala 5 - couldn't do much about the goal as he was marking someone else
Montoya 4.5 - better than Abdennour on the left, though the standard was low, often exposed at the back
Suarez 5 - after a few decent games, this was an average performance, and Depor all too often managed to bypass him
Enzo 4.5 - same as Suarez, not as effective as previous games and had to be subbed off to prevent him getting a second yellow
Parejo 6.5 - generally had a decent game and is thriving in this position further forward, but we saw signs of the old Parejo near the end with a few sloppy passes
Nani 6 - had an ok game and set up the goal
Rodrigo 5.5 - despite the goal, he needs to do better than this, missed a few decent chances
Cancelo 6 - yes he has quality, but several times in this game and previous ones he seems to be "showboating" : taking on another defender when passing the ball would be a better option

Munir 4.5 - came on early in the second half and had his chance to stake a claim for a regular place. Didn't take it.
Medran 5.5 - some decent passing after he came on, deserves to start more
Fede N/A - first competitive game for Valencia since May 2014. While it's nice to see him back, didn't do enough, ineffective in possession and passing could've been better.