Friday, February 24, 2017

Orellana, Soler, and Valencia's New Midfield

When the 2016-2017 season started, Valencia had, among other problems, a definite weakness in its midfield. The team liked to play in a 4-3-3, which is a formation that is very physically demanding, especially for the midfield three, as they must simultaneous assist the forwards in pressing as well as cover both fullbacks. So when a team uses this formation, they usually try to have at least two alternatives for the midfield, both for rotation and tactical versatility.

Valencia, at the time, had just four midfields who could play in these three positions: Medran, Parejo, Perez, and Suarez. Aside from the fact that all four players had a history of being inconsistent, the situation was precarious because Valencia was never more than an injury and a suspension away from having no choice but to change tactical approach.

The coaches knew this: Paco Ayestaran tried to switch to a 4-2-3-1 formation, and Prandelli tried to play Fede Cartabia in a more central position to little success, as well as playing with formations a lot to try and find a better way for the team to play. Both had little success dealing with their midfield, and it was more for a lack of personnel than a lack of trying.

So when Voro took over, it seemed he was in as difficult situation as his predecessors. He had the good fortune to coincide with two key turns in Valencia’s season: the emergence of Carlos Soler and the acquisition of Fabian Orellana.

Voro prefers a 4-2-3-1 system, which used to include Dani Parejo as the 10 and Mario Suarez and Enzo behind him. However, now he has much more viable options in front of him. Orellana’s brilliance as an enganche and Carlos Soler’s ability to play as one of the midfield pair means that his midfield options have tripled on the bench.

Now, Voro can start with Dani Parejo and Enzo Perez as the base with Orellana free in front of them, and on the bench he has a veritable tool kit: Soler’s legs and dribbling abilities, Medran’s creativity, and Suarez’s relative defensive stability. No longer is he limited to just putting in whichever one didn’t start, now he has much more influence and is able to make a change based on how the game is going.

This, along with Zaza and his ability to provide a reference point in attack, could be key as Valencia tries to keep its momentum going in La Liga, and might save our season. European qualification would be near impossible, but it’d be nice to say we tried.

What do you think? What else does the new midfield offer? What formations should we try? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.