Sunday, May 7, 2017

Valencia 4-1 Osasuna match preview/report and news

Yesterday, it was confirmed that Voro will not continue as trainer next season, following the sporting director's conclave with Lim in Singapore. There had already been questions whether Voro wanted the role, as if it didn't work out, it would mean his exit from his beloved club. He's done a brilliant job stabilising the club and all VCF fans will be happy to hear he's continuing in some capacity with the club.

As for alternatives, Setien seems to have dropped out of the running. The backroom falling out at Las Palmas didn't help things, but the killer is Las Palmas' recent form, which has nosedived since it became clear he would not continue there. Since March, LP have taken only 4 points in 8 games, conceding 22 in that time and overall, their defence is the fourth worst in La Liga.

Marcelino seems to be the current favourite and the fact that he had agreed to take over post-Ayestaran is a bonus in that direction, but, as always, Valencia fans have to prepare for the worst. Berizzo of Celta is the other possibility and, with Celta's home defeat to Man United making it unlikely they'll play in Europe next season, he's become a realistic option as well.

Transfer rumours come and go and should largely be taken with a pinch of salt until we are closer to the post-season and until the new guy is confirmed. For what it's worth here is some of the news and rumours from the past week

*Munir will not continue at VCF. The 12m asking price is too much and Barca will not negotiate.
*Milan and Chelsea are interested in Garay.
*Parejo and Enzo will be sold.
*Gaya's release clause is currently 50m, but will reduce to 30m in June 2018 if the club don't increase his salary.
*Valencia will get 1m from the Andre Gomes transfer if Barca win La Liga.
*Valencia have asked about loan with option to buy deals on Vietto and Kranevitter.
*With relegation likely for Middlesbrough, Negredo will not continue there. He hasn't convinced the fans either. It's possible that he will continue in England, with West Brom expressing interest.

Valencia play Osasuna today in the first of two dead rubbers. Osasuna have been rubbish all season and have been in the bottom three since matchday three, though our game there ended in a frustrating 3-3 draw, with them nicking an injury time equaliser. Following a run of 4 games without a win, it's essential that Valencia achieve a convincing win today to lift morale. Osasuna like to play defensive (though it hasn't done them much good, shipping 84 goals in 35 games) and prefer 5-1-2-2 or 5-2-1-2. That means a lack of width that Valencia could exploit. Sergio Leon seems to be their main danger man, scoring 10 goals this season, a decent tally for such a weak team and Valencia are one of several clubs reported to be interested in him, as his release clause will drop from 12m to 2.5m following their relegation.

Valencia's 18-man squad is: Diego Alves, Jaume; Cancelo, Montoya, Santos, Garay, Mangala, Gayà; Enzo, Parejo, Medrán, Soler, Orellana; Nani, Munir, Rodrigo, Mina and Zaza.

Abdennour is injured and Bakkali, Siqueira and Mario Suárez have been excluded. Lato returns to Valencia 'B.' That isn't a demotion, but more a case of deploying him where he's more useful. Valencia 'B' are fighting for a place in the promotion play-offs for Segunda and Lato can make more of an impact there.


As for the match itself, it was largely a walk in the park for Valencia and, for one of the rare occasions this season, the gap between them and a weaker team was clear. Leganes and Granada are probably the only other examples. Valencia won easily, scoring 4 goals for the first time since April 2016, though without either team breaking a sweat. The game had the atmosphere more of a friendly rather than a serious game and a lot of fans obviously voted with their feet and hit the beach instead. The attendance of 24,752 was the second lowest in the league this season.

Valencia had a chance in the early minutes with Enzo put through but unable to get a shot off. However, it was Osasuna who had the best of chances. Oriol headed just wide and Sergio Leon turned Garay well, but shot just over. Valencia took advantage. Gaya won a free kick on the edge of the area, Parejo hit it well, with the keeper just saving. From the resulting corner, the ball was knocked out, but Nani put the ball across and Garay was there to slide it in at the back post.

A few minutes later, Osasuna should have been level. Fausto only had to head it in, but hit it with his shoulder instead, injuring himself in the process, with Jaume producing a great save low down. Sergio Leon would have another chance, but shot at Jaume. Valencia for their part had plenty of possession but Nani kept shooting instead of passing.

Before half time, VCF got a second from Garay. A good forward pass to Leon was cut out to Montoya and his forward pass ended with Zaza, who took his time and passed to Garay, who slotted home well.

The second half continued in fairly languid fashion. Gaya hit the post, more by accident, when trying a cross. Osasuna had a couple of good chances too, and Oriol scuffed a shot at an open goal after Jaume had saved well from Leon. Valencia brought Rodrigo on and he made an immediate impact, Mangala and Nani combining to set him away on the left and his centre was turned in by Zaza. Rodrigo got on the scoresheet himself with his easiest goal this season, a cross deflected over the keeper for Rodrigo to tap in on the goal line.

Disappointingly, Osasuna got a consolation at the end, scoring in injury time just as in the first game after cutting inside and centering back. Jaume kicked the post in frustration, screaming "de puta madre!" as he was understandably annoyed at being denied the clean sheet he deserved by the defence switching off.

Overall, despite the scoreline, this wasn't our best performance of the season. The wins over Villarreal, R.Madrid or Celta would probably fit into that category. Some of our weaknesses were clearly in evidence. Shaky defending, especially from set pieces, lack of imagination in the final third and switching off late on in the game. Plenty for the new coach to sort.

On a final, positive note, Valencia 'B' secured their place in the play-offs for Segunda Division, with a draw at Lleida. They will now have three 2-legged ties if they want promotion.

Jaume 7.5 - a good return and solid goalkeeping throughout. Proved once again he's a reliable replacement.
Gaya 7 - good game, was able to put in some decent crosses
Garay 6 - if I was grading him on attack, it would be 8.5, but he's a defender and for that it would be a 3.5 to 4. In the latter grounds he was very shaky, often losing his man and against a better team, we'd have conceded more.
Mangala 7.5 - did really well and often had to cover and cut out some dangerous balls when Garay went missing.
Montoya 7 - linked up really well with Cancelo. Has proved to be a great acquisition.
Enzo 6 - didn't notice him much, but we controlled the centre well
Parejo 6.5 - was passing well and almost scored. Will be missed by me when he goes.
Soler 6 - with Orellana's absence got a chance in his best position slightly behind the attack, but didn't make the most of it.
Nani 6 - put in some good contributions in attack, but was often far too greedy and needs to be less of a one-man band.
Zaza 6.5 - good goal and work rate as usual, even saw him coming back to help in defence. Now has 4 goals in 5 games. Hopefully this will continue into next season.
Cancelo 7 - was a real handful for their defence, another who will be missed if he goes

Rodrigo 7 - good performance, with a goal and an assist
Medran N/A - didn't have much to do with the game already in the bag
Mina N/A - as above, didn't notice him much