Sunday, October 2, 2016

Valencia 0-2 Atletico match report

When your best performance of the season involves losing 0-2, with the other team missing 2 penalties, you know you have problems.

What we saw today was a disciplined and better organised Valencia side. Compared to earlier games, there was a significant reduction in the scary moments of defensive lapses and poor marking which had gifted opposition teams goals. The midfield didn't even do that badly and there were some nice transitions from defence to attack. Voro and the players did their best, but the cold hard fact remains, even on better days, this team is far below the level required to challenge for the Europa league, let alone the Champs league.

Atletico had the better of the early period, looking dangerous, but came up against a Valencia defence that had better shape than previously and were able to hold them at bay. The problem was not there, it was further up the pitch, where we looked limp and rarely threatened. So, despite a better period at the end of the second half, it was hard to see us scoring. Gameiro, Greizmann and Correa had all come close only to be denied by combinations of Alves, Santos and Mangala. Towards the end of the first half, Nani bundled over an Atleti player in the box, who was clearly looking for the penalty. Greizmann hit it perfectly, towards the centre of the far left post, but Alves (who else?) produced a brilliatn save. 0-0 at half time.

Mina came on for the ineffective Cancelo at half time and was put through well, but an opposing defender did well to make a key tackle. That would be one of only two good chances for Valencia in the half. The half would actually be even until around the 60th minute when Atletico gained the upper hand. Torres, a player who always seems to do better against Valencia, came on and almost immediately forced a great save from Alves, who was powerless to stop Greizmann from getting his revenge after a great pull back from Gameiro.

It was hard to see Valencia getting anything from there, as we had been lacklustre up front. Shortly after the goal, a clumsy challenge from Suarez gave away another penalty. There could be no argument about this one. With Gabi now stepping up, Alves produced another great save. After that, Valencia had chances, but apart from a header for Mangala, nothing that really troubled Oblak in the Atletico goal. Munir came on for Rodrigo and Bakkali replaced the injured Nani but it was still hard to be confident of anything from this. Towards the end, on the break, Gameiro put the game to bed in injury time. Ultimately, not an unfair result, as, despite a better performance, Valencia didn't deserve 3 points today. The squad simply isn't good enough, especially in the forward line and buying a decent number 9 in January seems a must.

Another issue: that is now 5 penalties in 7 games we have conceded and while one or two of those might have been questionable, an overly aggressive approach is something that the new manager must address in training. It's great to see Alves bailing us out but it would be better if we weren't in that position to begin with.

Player ratings
Diego 8.5 - did we seriously consider selling him? Great game, possibly the best penalty saver in the world, but can't get a ten due to distribution and aerial issues.
Gaya 5 - mostly pinned back but covered well enough in defence
Santos 6 - had a better game than last, made a couple of decent interceptions and is clearly 3rd choice centre-back now
Mangala 5.5 - didn't do anything wrong, positioned well but another yellow card and missed chance up front are negatives
Montoya 5 - did ok but still looks no better than Barragan was in this position
Suarez 3 - Outclassed by his former teammates and gave away a needless penalty.
Parejo 5 - did ok but overhit several passes and his free kicks were ineffective. Definite confidence issue there.
Enzo 5 - lucky not to get booked after a couple of trademark lunges. Wasn't bad and fitness seems to have improved.
Cancelo 3.5 - better in this position than at right back but on the strength of today, that's not saying much. Poor game.
Rodrigo 3 - in previous seasons he could complain about being played out of position but now has his chance and has been found wanting. Depressing to see the gap in quality between him and Greizmann (who cost the same!)
Nani 4 - mostly anonymous in the first period. Did better in the second half but nothing major.

Mina 4 - better than Cancelo, but hardly the stellar performance to cement a starting place
Munir 4 - little improvement on Rodrigo.
Bakkali 5 - always looks threatening, maybe time to give him a starting spot

Voro 6.5 - second defeat. Deserves credit for organising the team better and stopping the rot, but can only work with the tools he's given and they're below standard.