Sunday, November 19, 2017

Espanyol 0-2 Valencia CF Match Report

Valencia CF entered the two week break with a historic result in the league, having broken several records this season, so it was on everyone's mind how will the two week pause affect Valencia CF, will such a long pause dampen our good form or energize the players even more thanks to having a breather in which they can take things down a notch.

Well the team continued in their winning form beating Espanyol 2-0 away from home in what was a more competitive match than the result would have you believe. Valencia CF might not have conceded a goal, but Espanyol came really close to scoring several times in the first half.

In fact Espanyol hit the post two times and forced Neto into saving mode quite a few times, with Valencia CF looking more and more likely to concede as the minutes passed by. Fortunately for Valencia CF lady luck was on their side today, barely surviving Espanyol's dangerous attacks.

Marcelino chose a different starting eleven from his normal one with Guedes, Soler and Zaza all on the bench, while Andreas Pereira, Santi Mina and Toni Lato took their place, with Lato playing as a left back and Gaya up front. Another smaller change was Paulista for Garay, though Marcelino has rotated the defense fair amount, but still it was a change from the average squad we've seen.

With so many changes to the team the fluid gameplay we've seen before was mostly gone and our attack dampened. Even our midfield which has been mostly stable before was shaky and especially Parejo who had several mishaps, few lost balls, several erroneous passes, etc...

The whole first half was weak football from Valencia CF, with the team mostly defending against very dangerous Espanyol attack, which basically pure luck saved us from conceding at least two goals. Neto was also on point and made several saves, but again it could have been different if Espanyol's players were 1% more proficient.

The second half got a little bit better for Valencia CF as we were able to mostly stop their attacks before any serious danger and with the arrival of Guedes and Garay the play stabilized and Valencia CF became a lot more cohesive.

It was soon after that Kondogbia would score and give the team additional boost of confidence, after which Valencia CF seemed the likely winner. It was a stunning goal as well, Espanyol's defenders crossing the ball outside the penalty area where Kondogbia was at, he side stepped to move into a better shooting position and a powerful and precise shot from long range ended up in the net.

Later on Soler came on Andreas Pereira and within a minute or two the substitution paid off as Soler sent a dangerous cross into the penalty area, which an Espanyol's defender managed to reach first, but it essentially positioned the ball to the oncoming Santi Mina who slotted the ball into the low right corner to make it 2-0.

Ultimately a 2-0 victory, but the result is misleading as this was a very hard fought victory that could have easily ended up in a loss or a draw if Valencia CF weren't so lucky in the first half. The team needs to improve to avoid such possibilities and I'm fairly certain that our standard players not starting had a big role to play in the poorer showing.

Toni Lato was also one of the weaker links as he did poorly in covering on the side and while he has huge potential he is still not ready for prime time.

In terms of reinforcements in the winter we could use a cover for Parejo and cover for Montoya. Even on the left wing we could use cover for Guedes, where now we only have Gaya. We could always use one of the youth players, but I don't know how ready they are, especially now that we are doing so well.

Player Ratings:
Neto 7.5 - Safe and secure at goal, made several saves and has been consistently reliable for us
Montoya 6 - Was generally secure at the back, though didn't provide much going forward and has no understanding with Andreas.
Gabriel 6 - Overall an average performance, had some troubles in defense when paired with Murillo, improved when Garay came in.
Murillo 5 - Not the best defensive display I've seen and seemed shaky and insecure often times.
Lato 4 - Was the weakest link in defense, lost his mark several times, rather poor positioning another couple of times and generally a weak overall performance.
Andreas 6 - Okay performance overall, did as best he could with what little he was given to play with, few decent crosses, few decent runs, lots of running back and forth and a motivated performance.
Kondogbia 7 - Did as much as he can defensively, not the most dominant performance we've seen from him, but a good one nonetheless, was better offensively as he was providing some good offensive passes and managed to score an amazing goal that set Valencia CF up for the victory.
Parejo 5.5 - Poor first half display, lost balls, poor passing, lackluster positioning. Improved in the second half, but wasn't even near his best. Did manage to intercept a lot of Espanyol's passes and thus improving his score a bit.
Gaya 6 - Wasn't a serious threat on the left wing, provided some decent crosses, but rather unimpressive performance on the wing. Was a lot more effective as a left back and doing a lot better defensively than Lato and linking up well with Guedes.
Moreno 5 - Was too selfish and tried to do everything on his own. Had few options to pass and make the better play, but decided to dribble or shoot and it ended up ineffective. Needs to learn to play more with others.
Mina 6.5 - Was the more dangerous of the two attackers and was rewarded with a goal late in the game. Overall good positioning throughout the match, did well with his shot for the goal.
Guedes 6 - Didn't really do much at all personally, but boosted confidence in the team and his direct and aggressive play seemed to put Espanyol on the back foot.
Garay 6 - Solid performance slotting in for Murillo and steadied the ship at the back. His bigger physique also added a new dimension to our defending.
Soler N/A - Provided sort of an assist for the second goal, it was his cross that lead to the goal. Did rather really good for having only 10 minutes of playing time.