The 16th match day in La Liga for Valencia ends in the second loss of the season. The loss wasn't surprising, to me at least. This game was a clear indication of the current form of the team and a continuation of a pattern that began many games ago. This loss also gave Atletico Madrid to overtake us and claim the second place position. We sit 2 points behind them and 5 points behind Barca who have yet to play their game. Real Madrid also has the chance to level us on points when they play their game in-hand.
With Zaza suspended due to yellow card accumulation, Marcelino started Mina alongside Rodrigo. A Soler injury during training has also given Nacho Gil another chance to start. Parejo and Kondogbia started in midfield with Pereria on the left wing, opposite to Gil. The defense in front of Neto remained unchanged with Vezo and Paulista in the central positions, Gaya on the left, and Montoya on the right.
Eibar took the game to us from the beginning. They didn't park-the-bus and weren't aggressive as was the case in Getafe. They won the ball cleanly off us and composed some good attacking plays. We couldn't form productive counter-attacks amidst misplaced passes and poor decision making. Our best chance in the first half came from a corner which found Rodrigo at the far post in space, but he couldn't even hit the target from the free header, should've done better.
Gaya was injured at half-time and had to be replaced by Lato. This is yet another set back we have to deal with amid all the recent injuries. The extent of the injury will be determined on Monday, but it is confirmed it's a hamstring problem in the left leg.
The second half featured some really bad defending from our side. Eibar struck four minutes into the second half. A cross into the box fell to Montoya instead who tried to clear only for the ball to strike the Eibar player in front of him and give possession back to another player in the box who set up the goal for Inui. Awful clearance from Montoya and Neto just stood frozen and was beaten at his near-post.
Valencia would find their way back into the game with a stroke of fortune. Rodrigo found Pereira out wide on the right wing, the latter sent a low cross into the box and a fortunate deflection from the nearby defender took it over the defender in the box and into the path of Santi Mina who had no trouble finishing from that range.
The game would stay tied for the next 30 minutes - a period where we picked up 4 yellow cards in 10 minutes. Marcelino would also use this chance to bring on Guedes, back from injury, and to give time to youngster Ferran Torres for Nacho Gil and Pereira respectively. The subs didn't have the desired impact and we spent a lot of the time in our half just taking Eibar attacks. Eibar would eventually break our defense with a cross from the left. Paulista failed to cover his man who had time to make good contact with a header that beat Neto.
This comes back to our discussion after the last few games. The many injuries and some suspension, exposes our lack of squad depth. Even without injuries and suspension, we don't really have much on the bench to offer something different. Often changes are like-for-like, similar style players. Our defense which had been our focus in the beginning of the season is looking very shaky now. A lot of blame often goes to the right side of the defense and Montoya/Nacho Vidal have quite rightly been disappointing. But both goals today showed that the entire defense looks vulnerable.
Squad depth can be addressed in the transfer market and it seems there are plans to do so, with the four positions being looked at being a forward, a winger, a central midfielder and a right back. Squad depth won't solve all our problems though. There seems to be a lot of sloppy passing and bad decision making that are recurring these past few games which also need to be addressed.
The next and final game before the transfer window is at Mestalla against Villareal. A month back, I would favor our chances against them. I still think we can manage a win based on our home form but these past few games showed that we can just as easily lose. The period after the transfer window will be a relatively more intense schedule as Copa del Rey games will return.
1-0, Inui, 49'
1-1, Santi Mina, 57'
2-1, Jordan, 87'
Neto 3 - Seems to get caught off-guard, stood frozen for both goals, especially the first one at his near post
Gaya 5 - Covered well before getting injured, not many chances to get forward
Vezo 4 - I don't think he has a good partnership with Paulista, they don't seem to communicate well, I think he would do better with a different partner
Paulista 2 - Some games I think I misjudge him as a poor and he proves me wrong, but this game he was poor, lost his man in the second goal
Montoya 2 - Disappointing, poor clearance resulted in first goal
Kondogbia 5.5 - He's one of the constants in our team, maintains his level even in team's poor performance
Parejo 5 - Another constant today, decent passing, corner routine with Rodrigo almost resulted in goal if not for poor finishing from Rodrigo
Pereria 4 - Selfish at times, but did well to find Santi Mina for the goal even though he got help from a deflection
Nacho Gil 5 - He worked hard out there but unfortunately his hard work didn't pay off for the team
Rodrigo 4 - He also worked hard, involved in the build up to the goal, but wasteful from chances at goal. He is the one forward on our team who I doubt his finishing from clear chances
Santi Mina 5 - Scored an easy goal but failed to hit the target at many other opportunities in the game
Lato 4 - I think he could've done more to stop the cross to the box for the second goal, but covered decently well for Gaya otherwise
Guedes N/A - He needs a bit more time to get back to top gear
Ferran Torres N/A - not enough time to show what he's got
Any thoughts on the game? Who impressed and who disappointed? What needs to be fixed?
All your comments and thoughts are appreciated and welcomed as always.