Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Real Zaragoza - Valencia match thread

Valencia kicks off its Copa del Rey campaign tonight away to Real Zaragoza, a club with which Valencia has history. We signed David Villa from them and Aimar went the other way. In Summer 2008 Marcelino rejected us to manage Zaragoza instead, being fired in December the following year. After being in the top flight for decades, Zaragoza have considerably declined in recent seasons and have yet to return to the top level after being relegated in 2013. Despite this, they still get a healthy turnout: nearly 23,000 watched their last home game against top-of-the-table Osasuna. After a poor start, when they managed only 4 points from their opening 5 games, they've managed 2 wins and 4 draws, so this isn't a game that Valencia can take for granted.

Zaragoza's main danger man would be Borja Iglesias, who is on loan from Celta. Some of you might recognise the name. He played for us at youth level from 2006 to 2010 before we let him go and he subsequently hit top form last season, ending up as the top scorer in Segunda division B with 32 goals for Celta B, scoring in both legs against Valencia Mestalla in the promotion play-offs.

As for Valencia, the team will be without Kondogbia for both legs of the Copa tie, because of more idiotic inflexible applications of rules by the Spanish football federation RFEF. Kondogbia was sent off in a Copa tie for Sevilla back in 2012-13. He should have served the 2-game suspension with Monaco in the French cup but the RFEF forgot to notify the French, as was their duty under FIFA rules. As a result he won't play. Conversely, Parejo racked up his fifth yellow card of the season against Sevilla and is suspended for the game against Alaves. As a result he will almost certainly play tonight.

Valencia's 18-man squad is Jaume, Neto, Montoya, Nacho Vidal, Gabriel, Garay, Vezo, Lato, Maksimovic, Parejo, Carlos Soler, Guedes, Pereira, Nacho Gil, Orellana, Rodrigo, Zaza and Santi Mina.

Marcelino could have included up to 4 players from Valencia Mestalla but has chosen to play it fairly safe. Murillo and Gaya are rested completely, Orellana and Vezo return to the squad. There are still questions over whether Vezo has totally recovered from his injury, so we will have to see if he gets some minutes.

Jaume, Lato, Garay all look certain to play, with the other centre back depending on Vezo's fitness. Vidal will likely play. In midfield Pereira and Parejo look definite and we may see either Maksimovic or Nacho Gil get their first start of the season with the winger being either Orellana, Guedes or Soler. Up front, Mina will almost certainly start, just a question of which of Zaza/Rodrigo partners him.

In theory, Valencia could slip up tonight and then kill the tie at home, but I expect a comfortable win by at least 2 goals so that we can rotate a bit more when the second leg is played on 29 November.

Please feel free to comment here before and during the game and, assuming I can get a stream, I'll put a match report up later.