Monday, November 27, 2017

Valencia CF 1-1 FC Barcelona Match Report

Valencia CF played their toughest opponent this season and got away unscathed, managing to get a draw against an inform Barcelona side who came to the Mestalla to win and almost managed to do so with a first half goal that luckily for us went unseen by the referees and wasn't awarded.

Valencia CF had been slacking somewhat before this match and even though the team had won all the previous matches with comfortable results, the play had not been all that great, especially in the first half, before we'd improve and win the game. As such this match was a worry, all of us wondering which Valencia CF is going to show up and we got our answer. In the first half the lackluster Valencia CF showed up that did the essentials like defending good and covering the spaces well, but not really playing football and then in the second half we got the solid and much more confident Vaelcncia CF that did cause FC Barcelona problems and managed to score a goal to take the lead with a wonderful counter attacking move.

What the first half boiled down was essentially Valencia CF being pushed deep back into their own half with Barcelona relentlessly attacking and trying to create a chance and Valencia CF focused 100% on defending and nothing else. This approach could have cost Valencia CF, since FC Barcelona did technically score a goal that was essentially not seen by the referees and the play went on.

Truth be told apart from the goal that Barcelona scored, but shouldn't have as Neto did make a blunder out of it was the only serious chance they had and they never looked likely to score again.

In the second half Valencia CF showed up to compete and were a lot more imposing, keeping the ball for longer in their possession and going forward and attacking, while also pressuring higher up the pitch and causing Barcelona more problems, forcing them into errors and causing them to lose the ball often.

Thanks to this improved play Valencia CF were able to create few chances for themselves with Guedes and Rodrigo having smaller opportunities, but nothing major, no clear cut shoots at goal, that is until the 60th minute when Guedes passes a sort of through ball to Gaya who's cross found Rodrigo Moreno and he masterfully slotted the ball past the keeper and into the net. It was a fantastic chance and a great goal, especially since Moreno hasn't celebrated himself with his finishing, so being able to slot the ball into the net on this occasion was great.

Valencia CF pressed forward even more with their newfound morale and confidence boost, creating few chances in a row just after that, but nothing came out of it. Slowly FC Barcelona started taking back control of the match and by the 75th minute they were in the driving seat again and trying to find an equalizer. Unfortunately for Valencia CF they weren't able to withstand the barrage of attacks and a creative pass by Lionel Messi found its way to Jordi Alba who scored to equalize the score.

Both teams had smaller chances to score once again by the end, but neither team took their opportunities and ultimately the match finished 1-1, which I think is the fairest result, even with the ghost goal for Barca. Valencia CF have been on the receiving end of the spectrum countless of times and have unjustly lost matches against Barcelona due to refereeing "errors", strangely its never been an issue when Barcelona were the beneficiaries of refereeing calls, but now all of a sudden its a huge deal that Barcelona are on the opposing end of it?

Overall it was a poor first half and a more usual and better second half from Valencia CF, but there is clearly much room for improvement and there needs to be more intensity and more drive in the first half, we should be looking to win and play good football from the start. The team is still undefeated having played all of its toughest rivals and is still only 4 points off of Barcelona. I mean we are going to lose at some point, but I hope its not soon and that we can ride this wave for a long long time.

Player Ratings:
Neto 4 - First match to have a blunder that could have costed Valencia CF dearly, hopefully it doesn't affect him and he goes back to his best for the next matches.
Montoya 5.5 - Not the best defensive display, but considering he was pressured consistently for most of the match did well enough.
Garay 6 - Had a good showing, covered well in the back and was a physical presence in the penalty area against Suarez and Messi.
Gabriel 6 - Similar performance as Garay, was generally secure in his marking and tackles and didn't make any notable mistakes.
Gaya 7 - Good defensive showing, managed to deal with what Barca had to throw at him and provided the assist for our goal.
Soler 5.5 - Solid defensive contributions, covered a lot of ground and provided plenty of support for the defense, but was quite ineffective going forward even in the second half.
Kondogbia 7 - Solid defensively, solid offensively, good passing, good positioning and has been one of our key players this season.
Parejo 6.5 - Is becoming more and more the defensive powerhouse with a lot of interceptions and good defensive positioning. Needs to release the ball sooner as he could have been caught in possession several times and cause a huge problem for us.
Guedes 6.5 - Pretty anonymous in the first half as everyone, but was one of the most active players in terms of attack in the second half, most of the movement and actions coming from him.
Zaza 6 - Tried to help the team every way possible, including a lot of defensive marking and falling back often, his offensive threat was limited though as VCF mostly operated thought counter attacks.
Rodrigo 7 - Probably our most threatening player on the field for the whole match, doesn't always make the best decision, but caused Barcelona lots of problems and scored a masterful goal with good positioning, awareness and shooting accuracy.
Pereira N/A - not enough time
Vezo N/A - not enough time
Mina N/A - not enough time